Join our 2021 Year of the Ox Virtual Lunar New Year Celebrations from February 10th to February 27th! Lunar New Year celebrations traditionally last for 15 days (16 days counting New Year’s Eve, 2/11). Here at OCA, we wish everyone a wonderful year of meaning, purpose, health, prosperity, and fulfilment. We start the new year showcasing different Lunar New Year traditions, cultural performances, arts & crafts, cooking tutorials, book talks, learning moments and workshops that we hope will bring joy to you, your family and friends. Let's start off the New Year on a fresh and positive note!
Funding includes the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance
How to Celebrate Together This Year
What is Lunar New Year?
Lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays of the year for many Asian communities around the world and is celebrated by many heritages including Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tibetan, Mongolian, Malaysian, and Indonesian. Across these varied cultures, many traditions exist for ringing in a new year of good luck and prosperity.
The Ox is the second of the 12 zodiac animal signs associated with the lunar calendar. Many ancient fables and legends explain the origin of the zodiac signs. The most common story tells of the animals racing across a river to determine their order in the cycle. The rat crossed the river by riding on the back of the ox, jumping ahead at the last minute to win the race, with the ox coming in second place.
Personality traits and other attributes often associated with people born in the year of a particular animal. Those born during the Year of the Ox may be seen as honest, diligent, and highly dependable. In Chinese tradition, five elements — wood, fire, earth, metal (or gold), and water — also cycle in accordance with the lunar calendar and are associated with the year’s animal sign. In 2021, the Lunar New Year will mark the beginning of the Year of the Gold Ox.
As you prepare for the new year, it is tradition to clean your house much like a Spring cleaning. Just be sure to clean whatever it is you want to clean before New Year’s Day. On New Year’s day, do not clean your house as it is like “sweeping away” your good luck for the year! This year we are joined by Keshav Kant who is making Tarot sessions available throughout the Lunar New Year Celebration. We wish you Good Luck and Prosperity!
Lunar New Year Celebration with Keshav Kant
Lunar New Year Eve
Thursday, February 11, 9:00 AM CST
Chien-Shiung Wu Forever Stamp Ceremony
The U.S. Postal Service honored Professor Emerita Chien-Shiung Wu, one of the most influential nuclear physicists of the 20th century, with a commemorative Forever Stamp. One of the most influential nuclear physicists of the 20th century, professor Chien-Shiung Wu (1912-1997) was a determined advocate for women in science and made enormous contributions to the physical sciences, altering modern physical theory forever.
During a career that spanned more than 40 years in a field dominated by men, Wu established herself as the authority on conducting precise and accurate research to test fundamental theories of physics. Working on uranium enrichment and radiation detectors for the Manhattan Project during World War II, Wu made invaluable contributions to the experimental process of splitting and harnessing the power of the uranium atom, making possible the production of the world’s first atomic bomb.
The stamp art features a detailed portrait of Wu wearing a black-and-white high-collared traditional Chinese gown known as qipao. The illustration was first drawn in graphite, then rendered in egg tempera paint. The background was painted with the pigment lapis lazuli, a highly valued color historically used in artistic depictions of angels, nobility and the Virgin Mary. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp with original art by Kam Mak.
The Chien-Shiung Wu Forever® Stamps are now available at USPS.com:
Thursday, February 11, 11:30 AM CST
A 365 Day Project with Cynthia Koo“Learn how to start—and more importantly, finish—your very own 365 day project! This workshop is for you if you’ve always wanted to learn how to draw, to start a blog, to build a business while holding down a full time job—essentially, if you have a big dream that seems daunting to accomplish in the midst of a busy life. The 365 Day framework is what I used to build Wonton In A Million (wontoninamillion.com) while holding down a full-time job. It is what I used to learn how to draw, going from simple stick figures to elaborate pencil portraits (drawinginayear.tumblr.com
). It is what I used to build a daily blogging habit that led to various opportunities like syndication to popular online publications.”
Happy New Year!
Day 1 | Friday, February 12
USPS Year of the Ox Forever Stamp: First Day of Issue Stamp Ceremony
OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates was instrumental in advocating for the issuance of the Lunar New Year stamps starting in 1988. A concept that was initiated by Georgia chapter member, Jean Chen, and championed by then National President, Claudine Cheng, after a 4 year effort, the first stamp was designed by artist Clarence Lee of Hawaii and became a reality December 30, 1992. The First Day Issue ceremonies have become annual events in which OCA has been a proud participant since January of 1993. Artist Kam Mak designed the following series. In 2021, the US Postal Service issues the second of 12 stamps in the newest series of Lunar New Year stamps. Art director Antonio Alcala designed the stamp with original art by Camille Chew. With pops of the very lucky color red on the horns and face, the ox mask in the stamp design incorporates elements with symbolic meaning. Several of the patterns were created with the style of Asian textiles in mind as well as purple flowers that represent the arrival of spring. The star in the center of the ox’s head references the celestial themes of the Chinese zodiac.
Get stamp sheets for your collection or as Lunar New Year gifts at USPS.com:
Day 1 | Friday, February 12, 11:30 AM CST
Lunar New Year Crafts: Making an Ox Candy Box
Follow along with us as we make these cute oxen shaped candy holders!
Coloring Page Link:
Day 1 | Friday, February 12, 6:00 PM CST
Unity Dragon & Lion Dance Troupe
Join us for a performance with the Unity Dragon & Lion Dance Troupe. The troupe specializes in traditional lion dance and martial arts with the goal to unite people through their shared love and passion of lion dance. Regardless of background, race, or gender, they accept all people who are willing to uphold the traditions that have been passed through generations. Their coaches and members train hard every week in order to give the best performance possible.
Day 2 | Saturday, February 13, 11:30 AM CST
Book Reading: “Year of the Ox” by Oliver Chin
Join Mei, Olivia the Ox, and author Oliver Chin for an exciting tale from the Chinese zodiac. Enjoy Olivia’s sensational adventure, as she grows up to discover her true character. A special Year of the Ox zodiac craft will follow the reading. Best for children ages 4-6. Older and younger siblings welcome!
About the Book
The fun-loving calf Olivia befriends the girl Mei, and the two become inseparable soul sisters. But pulling her weight on the farm is no easy task for the young ox. Suddenly, when her buddy and village are in trouble, can Olivia show her best qualities? This calf of golden character will appeal to fans of the classic children’s tale Ferdinand.
About the Author
Oliver Chin has written more than twenty books, including the series Tales from the Chinese Zodiac, The Asian Hall of Fame (The Discovery of Ramen, Fireworks & Gunpowder, and Anime & Manga), and Julie Black Belt. He co-authored the critically-acclaimed illustrated anthology Awesome Asian Americans: 20 Stars Who Made America Amazing. He created the graphic novel 9 of 1: A Window to the World, and wrote The Tao of Yao: Insights from Basketball’s Brightest Big Man. Called “an expert in Pacific Rim pop culture” by the San Jose Mercury News, Oliver presents at schools, libraries, and cultural organizations nationwide.
Day 2 | Saturday, February 13, 6:00 PM CST
New Year Sweet Rice Cakes “Nian Gao”
Join us for a demonstration of how to pan fry fresh traditional Nian Gao Sweet Rice Cakes with Annie Hu of Tea Cup Cafe.
Nián Gāo (年糕) New Year Sweet Rice Cakes are eaten year-round but are most often traditionally eaten for the Lunar New Year and make popular gifts. The sweet rice cakes symbolize progress, advancement, and growth. “Nián” (年) means “year,” and “gāo” (糕) is a homonym for “gāo” (高), which means, “tall,” “high,” or “expensive.” Traditional sweet rice cakes are made of rice flour and brown sugar or red beans; today, different flavors like taro or mung bean are available.
Day 3 | Sunday, February 14, 11:30 AM CST
Kam Mak Book Reading and Discussion
Join us for a memorable book reading and discussion renowned artist Kam Mak.
Mr. Mak’s most recent book My Chinatown: One Year In Poems received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews and is about a little boy growing up in Chinatown. My Chinatown was the Parent’s Choice 2002 Recommended Award Winner by the Parents’ Choice Foundation. Mr. Mak was awarded a gold medal for the cover art for The Kite Rider and silver medals for the cover art for My Chinatown from the Society of Illustrators 45th Annual Exhibition in 2003. Mr. Mak's art of the Koi fish for USPS's new note card stamp was released in Spring 2009 and his art has graced the second series of the USPS Lunar New Year Stamps, an OCA project and this year’s USPS commemorative Forever stamp of Professor Emerita Chien-Shiung Wu, one of the most influential nuclear physicists of the 20th century.
Day 4 | Monday, February 15, 11:30 AM CST
How to Make Dumplings with Chef YinJoin us to make Northern Style Dumplings, Southern Steamed Dumplings, and
Shanghai Soup Dumplings
During Lunar New Year, many families make special dishes or treats that normally are not made because they are very time-consuming. Some families gather together and have hotpot together to save time from having to precook a large variety of dishes. Traditionally, this was also the time that families have more dishes made with fresh meat before the invention of refrigeration. Northern parts of China typically have boiled dumplings while southern parts of China developed various steamed dumplings.
Learn traditional northern style dumplings and different ways to wrap southern style steamed dumplings; and get an introduction to Shanghai soup dumplings.
Day 5 | Tuesday, February 16, 11:30 AM CST
Wontons are like the easier version of dumplings because there’s no need to make the wrapper skins themself. They can be purchased at most Asian grocery stores in the frozen section. All you have to do is add in the filling and wrap them. Eaten all over Asia and China, every place has made their own styles with different fillings, wrapping styles, and eaten either in a soup, or deep fried with a dipping sauce.
“In Mandarin, they are called huntun (simplified Chinese: 馄饨; traditional Chinese: 餛飩; pinyin: húntun). In Cantonese, they are called wantan (simplified Chinese: 云吞; traditional Chinese: 雲吞; Jyutping: wan4tan1; Cantonese Yale: wàhn tān), which literally means "cloud swallow" because when they are cooked, the dumplings float in the broth like small clouds.” — Wikipedia
Day 6 | Wednesday, February 17, 6:00 PM CST
Today's screenings are cancelled due to recent Texas freezing weather and statewide power loss. Thank you for your understanding.
Day 7 | Thursday, February 18, 7:30 PM CST
Healing Through Walking Meditation
Learn about the labyrinth, create your own, and learn how to use it in meditation. —– Amy Malkan is a public artist, artrepreneur and community developer. She is best known for her contemporary style infused with Indian and Asian motifs within her murals and art installations.
Day 8 | Friday, February 19, 8:30 PM CST
Healing Through History — Building A Bridge Between Religion, Spirituality And Wellness by Keshav Kant
An interactive workshop on traditional religion, creating your own branch of faith, figuring out what is spirituality to you, finding your spiritual outlets and rituals, creating the physical and mental space where you practice your spirituality and how to integrate spirituality into wellness techniques like Yoga, Journaling, Meditation, Medication, Exercise.
Day 9 | Saturday, February 20, 2:00 PM CST
(3 PM EST, 12 PM PST)
Year of the Ox Lunar New Year Virtual Celebration
This interactive celebration will include traditional Chinese music and dance, a cooking demonstration by Ice or Rice, lessons in Tai Chi and Chinese Square Dancing, Karen dance, how-to-craft, various New Year greetings, and more!
Day 10 | Sunday, February 21, 6:00 PM CST
Today's screenings are cancelled due to power, network, and other utility losses due to the recent Texas freezing weather. Thank you for your understanding.
Day 11 | Monday, February 22, 11:30 AM CST
Koi Fish Crafting Project
During Lunar New Year, it is very important to have fish as the word in Chinese is a homonym for “prosperity” or “extra”, so when you say fish, it means prosperity. One common phrase during Lunar New Year is, Nián Nián Yǒu Yú (年年有余 Simplified Chinese; 年年有餘 Traditional Chinese), which literally means Yearly Prosperity and implies always having extra. It’s a fun play on words! Koi Fish are extra special as they are called Golden (Jin 錦) FIsh. Join us and make some cute Koi Fish to decorate your home or give as a gift to symbolize the wish for prosperity, abundance, and good fortune for the new year.
Day 11 | Monday, February 22, 3:00 PM CST
Fortune Cookie Factory Tour
See how these iconic snacks given at many Chinese restaurants since the early 1900s are made, and how their iconic shape has been made into jewelry, gift boxes, 8 balls, and of course fortune cookies with custom messages.
Fortune cookies have been a quintessentially Asian-American creation and icon for decades. Find out about how one long-standing family and maker of these cookies has been evolving the meaning and power of this famous cookie as they also journey into deepening their understanding of their responsibilities and role in the local community.
Day 12 | Tuesday, February 23, 6:00 PM CST
“No Crying at the Dinner Table” Film Screening
Filmmaker Carol Nguyen interviews her own family to craft an emotionally complex and meticulously composed portrait of intergenerational trauma, grief, and secrets in this cathartic documentary about things left unsaid.
2019 | Documentary | 15 min
Sign up for free to watch this heartfelt documentary.
Day 13 | Wednesday, February 24, 6:00 PM CST
Economic Empowerment: How Should I Invest in Property?
As we start out the new year, it’s an opportunity to reassess and plan for the future. Next to a job, investing in a home or rental property is one of the most traditional ways to build wealth. Join us for a lively and informative session on the ins and outs of real estate investing.
Day 14 | Thursday, February 25, 11:30 AM CST
Sweet Rice Balls Dessert
Sweet glutinous rice balls are a common and delicious Lunar New Year dessert. Chinese communities traditionally eat them on the 15th and final day of the Lunar New Year celebration, known as the Lantern Festival. They are made with a sweet filling wrapped in mochi-like glutinous rice. In Chinese, they are called “tāngyuán” (湯圓) (lit. “soup rounds”) which also sounds like “tuányuán” (团圆) (meaning “reunion”), so glutinous rice balls symbolizes the whole family gathering together.
Vietnamese communities also eat glutinous rice balls (“Chè Trôi Nước”) during Lunar New Year (“Tết”). And they can be across many other Asian countries like The Philippines (“ginataang bilo-bilò”), Thailand (“bua loi”, “บัวลอย”), Indonesia (“wedang ronde”), and Myanmar (“mont lone yay baw”, “မုန့်လုံးရေပေါ်”).
Day 14 | Thursday, February 25, 7:00 PM CST
Reading+Q&A with Kao Kalia Yang
Drawn from author Kao Kalia Yang’s childhood experiences as a Hmong refugee, this moving picture book portrays a family with a great deal of love and little money. Weaving together Kalia’s story with that of her beloved grandmother, the book moves from the jungles of Laos to the family’s early years in the United States. When Kalia becomes unhappy about having to do without and decides she wants braces to improve her smile, it is her grandmother―a woman who has just one tooth in her mouth―who helps her see that true beauty is found with those we love most. Stunning illustrations from Vietnamese illustrator Khoa Le bring this intergenerational tale to life.
Day 15 | Friday, February 26, 11:30 AM CST
Lantern Craft Project
Traditionally, the Lunar New Year Festivities end on the 15th day with the Lantern Festival or Yuán Xiāo Jié (元宵节 simplified characters/ 元宵節 traditional characters). In ancient times, the Lantern Festival was also called Shang Yuan (上元) and it was dedicated to the heavenly palace (天宫 / tiān gōng). People would gather in their yards and give offerings to the gods and the lighted lantern placed near the head of the table represented a god’s seat. Throughout history, countless variations of lanterns have been created. They can be small globes that fit in your palm, or as large as a parade float. People make lanterns in symbolic designs as well. A famous variation is the Kongming lantern (孔明灯 / kǒng míng dēng) also known as the sky lantern (天灯 / tiān dēng) that people use to make wishes. The Lantern Festival lanterns represent brightness/hope, success and happiness. Traditional colors are to use red for happiness and gold for wealth with a round circular shape signifying unity/togetherness.
Join us as we make a quick and easy Lunar New Year Lantern!
Day 15 | Friday, February 26, 7:00 PM CST
“Asian Americans” PBS documentary
EPISODE 1: BREAKING GROUND
EPISODE 2: A QUESTION OF LOYALTY
Registration for this free screening includes the entire five-part documentary!Sign Up To Watch
Day 16 | Saturday, February 27, 10 AM CST
OCA Virtual Professional Development Series
Leading Without Titles
Day 16 | Saturday, February 27, 3:00 PM CST
“Asian Americans” PBS documentary
EPISODE 3: GOOD AMERICANS
EPISODE 4: GENERATION RISING
EPISODE 5: BREAKING THROUGH
Registration for this free screening includes the entire five-part documentary!Sign Up To Watch