Celebrate the Chinese New Year on Long Island

Chinese New Year Celebration by the Confucius Institute

Chinese New Year Celebration by the Confucius Institute at the Wang Center at Stony Brook University. (Feb. 12, 2013) (Credit: Sam Levitan)

Embrace the snake.

Chinese New Year slithers in on Sunday, with 2013 marking the Year of the Snake. This most important Chinese holiday and always begins at the start of the second new moon after the winter solstice.

The snake is one of a dozen animals rotated over a 12-year cycle to represent the lunar new year. If you were born under the sign of the snake, it portends intelligence and ambition, according to various charts.

The holiday, a celebration of the coming spring, is heavily centered on family coming together, said Juan Huang, deputy director of the Confucius Institute at Stony Brook University. "Every family member comes home to celebrate," she said.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 150,000 Long Islanders identify themselves as Chinese, so celebrations here will be in full swing. If you want to welcome the new year, here are some places where you can enjoy folk and lion dances, listen to traditional Chinese music and get some astrological revelations.

Lion dancing

The lion will be king at the Ward Melville Heritage Organization's Chinese New Year party. The Ten Tigers Kung Fu Academy in Huntington will perform a traditional lion dance by donning a 9-foot-long decorated lion costume and mimicking the king of beast's movements, which include "chewing" lettuce and then spitting it out to the audience as a sign of prosperity, says Rik Kellerman, owner of Ten Tigers.

The celebration also will feature the Stony Brook Taiko Drum Ensemble, who welcome audience members to join in the fun, and a dance by Stony Brook's Spotlight Dance Academy.

There also will be a Year of the Snake craft activity for children.

WHEN | WHERE 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Ward Melville Heritage Organization's Educational & Cultural Center, Stony Brook Village Center on Main Street on the Harbor

INFO $12; $10 seniors and ages 11 and younger; sold out, but last-minute tickets may be available at the box office the day of the event, 631-689-5888, wmho.org

Folk dancing

Local talents will perform traditional Chinese folk dances at the new year celebration hosted by Stony Brook University's Confucius Institute. Among those taking the floor will be the Stony Brook Chinese Folk Dance Club, whose members include faculty and staff from Stony Brook University Hospital. Providing musical accompaniment on traditional Chinese instruments will be children enrolled in the university's Center for Chinese Learning. Games and refreshments will follow the performance.

"This event is one of the most important events during the year for the Chinese and Chinese-American community," said William Arens, vice provost and dean of Global Affairs and director of the Confucius Institute.

WHEN | WHERE 2-6 p.m. Feb. 17, Stony Brook University Wang Center, Nicolls Road

INFO Tickets are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis beginning tomorrow; 631-632-5476 or 631-632-2919, stonybrook.edu/confucius

Astrology reading

OK, so it's the year of the snake, but what exactly does that mean?

Find out from Raphael Simons, an expert on Chinese astrology, who adds that 2013 more specifically is year of the water snake. "The water snake is very subtle," he said. "It operates in secrecy. If situations around it are such, it can strike, but it's very cloak-and-dagger."

Simons, who makes predictions based on the astrological system, said we should expect this to be a very active year, which could mean lots of weather issues and maybe some economic revitalization.

Simons, who is appearing courtesy of Eyes of Learning, a Levittown-based metaphysical learning center, will hold about eight readings for participants based on a raffle system.

WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Friday, Levittown Hall, 201 Levittown Pkwy., Hicksville

INFO $15, 516-731-0909, eyesoflearning.org

Other programs

Vanderbilt Museum offers two crafts programs where kids can join in the Chinese New Year celebration.

Kindergartners to third-graders can first tour the natural history collections where they can examine skins and skeletons, then create a Lunar New Year lantern. Bring a bagged lunch.

Preschoolers build their own snake hand drums in honor of the Year of the Snake after visiting the animal dioramas at the museum.

WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m.-

1 p.m. Feb. 18 (grades K-3),

11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Feb. 19 (preschoolers), Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Rd., Centerport

INFO $35 (K-3), $20 (preschoolers), 631-854-5539 (registration for both is by phone), vanderbiltmuseum.org

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