Celebrating Chinese New Year Traditions
By Francisco Valdez
Every year, the Archdiocese of San Francisco celebrates a Mass in honor of the Chinese New Year. The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption was the host location for the Mass on January 28. Before Mass began, the Repentance dance troupe processed up the main aisle of the cathedral while musicians played traditional Chinese instruments. In honor of Chinese New Year, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone wore red vestments with gold dragons, and concelebrating priests were also arrayed in similar themed colors.
“The Chinese New Year Mass celebration is an opportunity for different cultures and people who speak different languages to come together and worship the same God united in prayer,” said Alice Chan, pastoral ministry administrative assistant at the Archdiocese of San Francisco Chancery office.
Following the Mass on the cathedral plaza was a Chinese lion dance performance. Mass attendees were greeted by two stationary lion costumes, each operated by two dancers, one of whom manipulates the head while the other forms the back of the lion. Chinese percussionists dressed in black and red awoke the lions by pounding on drums and cymbals. A choreographed routine began in response to the percussion. The lions circled each other, lowered their heads to the ground and raised a red banner that read, “Happy Chinese New Year” in English and Chinese. As the performance concluded and in the spirit of the Chinese New Year tradition, Archbishop Cordileone gave out to spectators red envelopes that included a special prize and a Divine Mercy prayer.
A reception with food and festivities followed the performance in the cathedral hall, which was filled to capacity.
”The highlight of the evening was Father Peter Zhai’s singing,” said Sister Celeste Arbuckle, SSS, director of faith formation at the Archdiocese of San Francisco. “People were so enthusiastic to see him participate like that! There was great food and conversation, and it was wonderful to see so many people participating in the Lunar New Year celebration.”
Francisco Valdez is a reporter for Catholic San Francisco.