Have you ever wondered how other cultures celebrate the holidays? If you’re a curious holiday lover, then it’s a rewarding question to ask. Learning how others celebrate and show gratitude can be so uplifting and inspirational.
China has celebrated the holidays for centuries, long before religious holy days and rituals came along. However, celebrations are all about the spirit, and no one does spirit better than the Chinese.
From December 6 to January 26 in the Mets’ home stadium of Citi Field, the very first Hello Panda Festival will shine through the nights. It’s going to be the largest lantern festival in North America. Plan on attending and tell people you got to see the beginning of what we hope will be an annual festival.
The CPAA is a state-run Chinese company that promotes Chinese cultural events and exhibitions. Its North American branch is putting on this holiday bash, hoping to together all people from all traditions. The “cultural” part embraces the fine art of Chinese lantern making, food, arts, music, and other aspects of the culture.
Lanterns have been the basis of Chinese symbolism and celebrations from time immemorial. Variously colored lanterns mean different things like joy, success, or social status. The colors are interesting, too, with red meaning joy, energy, and good fortune. Blue lanterns indicate illness or decreasing energy. The lanterns can be made of silk, bamboo, paper, and metal.
With that in mind, picture it: the tallest Christmas tree in the world made entirely of lit lanterns. Life-sized dinosaurs, wild animals, a castle from fairy tales, and a 98-foot illuminated tunnel. Oh, yes, and pandas. Lots of pandas. Lantern theme parks will be lit with 300,000 LED lights.
But wait! There’s more! You can’t walk through all the exhibits, interactive shows, performances, and lights without sampling foods from around the globe. Asian, Mexican, continental, and of course, Chinese foods will be available for those who want to sample the tastes of the world.
Six immense heated tents will house the traditional as well as modern live performances, art galleries, and holiday items in a market. Music and dance performances in Latin, hip-hop, pop, and more can be sampled along with exquisite global cuisine.
While you’re enjoying the culture, you can even try participating yourself. Instructors will show you how to do paper cutting, embroidery, make art out of cotton candy, and sugar painting. Be sure not to miss learning dough sculpting. Maybe you can take home your own stegosaurus.
Where To Stay
Here’s a tip for traveling to NYC: staying in Manhattan is actually the worst idea. It’s congested and expensive. Just across the Hudson River, there are numerous hotels in Jersey City, NJ. It takes essentially the same amount of time to get from Jersey City to many destinations, including Citi Field.
There are many great hotels to choose from. The Hyatt House Jersey City offers you breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline. Large, modern suites, free Wi-Fi and breakfast, and a fitness center round out its amenities. The Holland Hotel is a great budget option. Located close to the Holland Tunnel and the PATH train, it’s quite convenient. And the newly-renovated rooms offer a nice guest experience.
There will be over 120 lantern displays for you to enjoy: tall, short, dragons, pandas, gingerbread houses, figures, trees, flowers, Santa and his reindeer — all of this in every color of the rainbow. The night will be alight with the wonder of a different culture in all its tradition and magic. Happy Holidays, Chinese style!