Ring in the Year of the Rooster at the Penn Museum’s Chinese New Year

The traditional Lion Dance is a highlight of the Chinese New Year Celebration. (Photo courtesy of the Penn Museum)

Just when we probably need it the most, the Year of the Fire Rooster predicts that people born under its sign will be dynamic and energetic risk-takers. The Chinese New Year is coming up on January 28 this year, and the Penn Museum will be holding its 36th annual Chinese New Year Celebration on Saturday, January 21 (part of its World Culture Days program).

Including 2017, the Year of the Rooster (the 10th sign of the Chinese zodiac) has come around nine times in the last century or so. In addition to zodiac signs, traditional Chinese element theory assigns one of five elements to each annual sign: Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth. The Fire Rooster hasn’t visited since 1957.

The day-long celebration at the Penn Museum will bring together cultural partners including the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival (PAAFF) and Asian Arts Initiative for events and workshops spanning music, film, martial arts, calligraphy, crafts, and much more.

There’ll be two chances to take an interactive “zodiac tour” (noon and 3pm), when participating families can hunt for the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac among the Museum’s galleries.

Chinese for Families, a local language school, offers an all-ages program at 11am. Artist Onlei Annie Jung will lead a Chinese calligraphy class and two workshops on the seven tans of the tangram, an ancient Chinese puzzle game. You can also catch live music from the erhu, a Chinese two-string fiddle, and the yangchin, the Chinese hammered dulcimer, at 12:30 and 2pm.

For the first time, PAAFF gets in on the festivities with a special showing of four recent short films at 2pm, curated and introduced by PAAFF director Rob Buscher: Zodiac Run, Where East Meets West, Noodle Deli, and Finding Cleveland.

Asian Arts will be on hand at the all-day Chinese Art Marketplace, and current Fleischer Art Memorial Dina Wind Art as Catalyst Fellow Emily Chow Bluck will be showing work from two of her series. Who’s Who discovers the faces of current Chinatown residents, and Market Authentics explores “aesthetic nostalgia, the search for authenticity, and food culture in the U.S., East, and Southeast Asia.”

To finish the day, there will be a Shaolin-style Kung Fu demonstration at 3:30pm from Cheung’s Hung Gar Kung Fu Academy, whose members will go on to perform the Grand Finale Lion Dance to bring us good luck for 2017. Check out the full schedule online for details on all activities.

The Penn Museum’s 2017 Chinese New Year Celebration is coming up on Saturday, January 21 from 11am to 4pm at 3260 South Street, Philadelphia. All performances and activities are included with the Museum admission donation.

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