Greeting the Lunar New Year

Older Adult Center members packed the dining room on the last Friday of the Lunar New Year for a festive presentation by social work student Vincent Cheng. Cheng described Lunar New Year traditions such as doing a deep clean of one’s house, gathering with family, wearing and using the color red, and exchanging gifts. Clinical Manager for Aging Services Gloria Gong pitched in, translating his English into Mandarin.

Everyone who attended the talk got a traditional red gift envelope with a decorative tassel and a red hand-held fan.

Afterward, the celebration continued with Chinese food for all: Chicken with broccoli, veggie lo mein, rice and dumplings. Fresh fruits and vegetables were also available to take home.

Member Betty Lou Shin said she learned a lot about the holiday—and Chinese food. “I’ve never tried a dumpling before,” she said. “I liked it very much.”

Older Adult Center Director Jemma Marens noted that Asians are a growing population in nearby East Harlem: “We always make an effort to celebrate the holidays that our community does, and to learn about each other’s cultures.”

She added that the Lunar New Year gathering was the last event the Older Adult Center held in 2020 before COVID shut down in-person programs. Now that members are once again able to gather, learn and celebrate together, she said, “It feels like we’ve come full circle.”