Chinese New Year in Portland, 1939 Lion Dancer "eats" lettuce, amid firecracker smoke, while two merchants stand watching. Photo: Oregon Historical Society, Neg Or Hi #84041
Portland's Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is the biggest celebration of the
year for people of Chinese heritage around the world. Also called
Lunar New Year because it is based on the lunar calendar, Chinese
New Year begins at sunset on the day of the second moon after the
winter solstice. Traditionally, in China, the holiday lasts fifteen
days. In Portland, however, families celebrate the holidays on
weekends or in the evenings.
Portland's Chinese New Year officially begins in
Chinatown with a ritual lion dance, performed by the Cantonese lion
team of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, to chase
away evil spirits and bring good luck. For three hours, musicians
and two "lions" dance their way to each of more than thirty
establishments in the district.
Most of Oregon's earliest Chinese residents came from
the Kwangtung province of Canton in southern China, who began
coming in 1851, the year gold was discovered in southern Oregon. By
the mid-1870s, the Chinese were the largest ethnic group in
Portland and, by 1910, Portland's Chinatown was the second biggest
in the United States, after San Francisco.
Documentation includes a text report and 12
Originally submitted by: Ron Wyden,Senator.
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.