By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published February 6, 2020
ATLANTA—Asian Catholics who celebrate the Lunar New Year gathered with friends and family for lion dances, traditional native food and honored community elders.
A standing room only crowd at Our Lady of Vietnam Church, Riverdale, worshipped Sunday, Jan. 26, on the second of a two-day cultural festival. The 2020 Lunar New Year began on Jan. 25.
Ear-splitting fireworks to scare away evil spirits kicked off the party. Young people hidden under the richly decorated lion costumes paraded on stage to dance.
Bishop Bernard E. Shlesinger III, the main celebrant for the Mass, was among the many people who handed dancers a red envelope. A red envelope usually contains money or other gift given on special occasions.
Surrounding the cultural celebration were booths selling native Vietnamese dishes, including crab and tomato broth noodle soup, duck eggs and rice paper salad. The community hall was converted into a children’s arcade where youngsters competed in games built around the theme of the Year of the Rat.
The Lunar New Year celebrationaff Writer stretches for days in the Asian community. There are churches in the Archdiocese of Atlanta serving Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean Catholics.
At St. Andrew Kim Church, Duluth, the new year began with Korean traditions.
Following Mass, one of those traditions is called “sebae,” when young people gather to bow to the senior members of the community.
Connie Pyo, who served as emcee, said the Lunar New Year always begins with this family custom in Korea. To bow is to show appreciation to elders for the past year, said Pyo, as people pray to God for their continued health.
The celebration also included a traditional Korean clothing contest, where winners received small gifts of a bag of rice, sesame oil and pepper paste used to flavor food, Pyo said.