The Year of the Rabbit will be ushered in with great gusto at the new Plainsboro Public Library on Saturday, February 12, from 1 to 6 p.m. The gala celebration features hands-on activity, entertainment, and a myriad of Chinese New Year’s traditions. Admission is free.
The afternoon begins with an opening reception at 1 p.m. to honor Philip F. Liu, whose photos of lotus blossoms will be exhibited in the library’s gallery throughout the month. Liu, an engineer by profession and president of Chilton Engineering in Cherry Hill, nurtures the lotus blossoms he photographs in his own back yard pond at his home in Princeton. With saturated colors and exceptional skill, the artist-engineer leaves no doubt as to why the lotus flower is so admired in Chinese culture.
Throughout the afternoon, Chinese and English books will be offered for sale by the World Journal and Timesbook. The wide variety of titles for adults and children includes publications from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and mainland China.
The festivities continue at 2 p.m. in the community room with a musical concert and a captivating demonstration of Tai Chi.
Then, at 3 p.m., Jin Huo Long, the GoldFire Dragon, who resides permanently at library, will awaken from his winter slumbers at the sound of the gong. He will travel through the library to announce the start of spring, as well as the start of a full schedule of demonstrations. The colorful dragon was given honorary naturalization papers by Plainsboro Township Mayor Peter Cantu in 2005.
“Doughman” David Lee, an artist whose talents have been enjoyed by the likes of former President George Bush and basketball super star Shaquille O’Neal, has returned by popular demand. The artist, who lives in north Jersey, abandoned his serious fine arts profession to work with dough, because it is more fun and it makes kids happy. Legend has it, that the dough dolls were first made during the Sanggwo Dynasty, 2,000 years ago. When a Chinese general and his troops needed to cross the flooded Lu River, they made the dolls from rice dough and water as an offering to the gods to ensure safe passage. The dolls became known as Jang Min Ren, or rice water people. In honor of the legend, traditional warrior dolls are crafted during festivals.
Plainsboro’s Asian Food Market will be cooking Chinese food throughout the afternoon. Crafts presented include Chinese calligraphy with Yuchen Chen, May Lee, Michael Shiue, and Howard Ye; papercutting with Allison Kwok; Chinese knotting with Grace Kwok; and Chinese yo-yo with Princeton Chinese Language School. The library staff presents rabbit stories from around the world.
Games begin in the community room at 5 p.m. with countless chances to win Chinese prizes. Adults are welcome to join in the library’s adaptation of the lantern riddle tradition. There will be hundreds of puzzles waiting to be solved — in both Chinese and English.
One of the major traditions is the red envelopes, which usually contain gifts of money. Mayor Peter Cantu, New Jersey legislator Linda Greenstein, and library trustee Iris Chang will be on hand to pass out the traditional red envelopes filled with golden coins of chocolate. Mounds of tasty oranges round out the traditional fare.
— Lynn Miller
Chinese New Year’s Celebration, Plainsboro Public Library, 9 Van Doren Street, 609-275-2897. www.lmxac.org/plainsboro. Free. Saturday, February 12, 1 to 6 p.m.
Other events featuring Chinese New Year include:
Friday, February 4
Luncheon, West Windsor Senior Center, 271 Clarksville Road, West Windsor, 609-799-9068. Register. $7. 11 a.m.
South Brunswick Library, 110 Kingston Lane, Monmouth Junction, 732-329-4000. www.sbpl.info. Celebrate the Year of the Rabbit with crafts, games, and activities. Free. 1 to 4 p.m.
Sunday, February 6
Princeton Chinese Language School, Lawrence Hill School, 2525 Princeton Pike, Lawrenceville, 609-759-0185. www.pcls.org. Performances include dragon and lion, traditional Chinese dances, Chinese yo yo, KongFu, and music. Free. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for information. 2:30 to 5 p.m.
Friday, February 11
Chinese New Year, Princeton Senior Resource Center, Suzanne Patterson Center, 45 Stockton Street, 609-924-7108. princetonsenior.org. Celebrate the year of the rabbit with a presentation by the children of the Ying Hua International School as well as entertainment from adult members of the community. Refreshments. Register. Free. 10:30 a.m.
Princeton Public Library, 65 Witherspoon Street, 609-924-8822. www.princetonlibrary.org. Performances of music and dance, hands-on crafts, and sample foods. 2 p.m.