METUCHEN – As Chinese New Year nears, members of the Asian community in Metuchen hope to showcase how fun the new year festivities can be.
“Asian culture is often overlooked and underrepresented,” Jennifer Zhu said. “We hope that when you come to celebrate the Lunar New Year, you learn a little about Asian cultures and how fun the Lunar New Year can be.”
Zhu was born in Hong Kong and came to the United States when she was 4 years old. She grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and has lived in Metuchen with her husband, three children and dog for 20 years.
The Metuchen community will celebrate Lunar New Year on Feb. 12 as part of an ongoing collaboration of the Metuchen Downtown Alliance and Human Relations Commission, which brought celebrations of Juneteenth and Hispanic Heritage Month in 2021.
Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year, falls on Feb. 1 this year celebrating the Year of the Tiger.
“Born and raised in Central New Jersey, my parents made sure I understood both the American and Chinese parts of my identity,” Jacqueline Ho said. “Now that I have a family of my own, I’m realizing the importance of passing down these traditions to my daughter. It’s an honor to be able to do so in such a diverse community like Metuchen and to share it with my neighbors.”
Ho’s father owned a business in Manhattan’s Chinatown and her family was heavily involved in the Chinese community in New York City and the nonprofit United East Athletics Association.
“I started off as a cymbal player when I was 12 on their (United East Athletics Association) Lion Dance team and eventually became their first female drummer,” she said. “Fast-forward to a pandemic move out of New York City to Metuchen with my husband and 5-month-old daughter in 2020 and the rest is history. I’m excited and honored to be involved and a part of the Metuchen community and to be able to share such an important part of my culture with my neighbors.”
Ho and Zhu, who serve on the Metuchen Human Relations Commission, are organizing the festivities. The celebration begins in downtown Metuchen at 11 a.m. and will include the traditional Lion Dance, which signifies good luck and fortune, children’s stories, and crafts.
Zhu’s nephew is on the University of Pennsylvania’s Lion Dance team and will perform the dance alongside the Metuchen High School team.