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Medford celebrates the Year of the Dog

Catherine Xu having fun with friends during the February 15th Chinese New Year Celebration at the Medford Public Library.
Catherine Xu having fun with friends during the February 15th Chinese New Year Celebration at the Medford Public Library. (Marianne Salza)

There is a Chinese expression that states: “If a dog comes to the home, he will always be welcome; but if a cat comes to the house, he should be chased away.” In Chinese culture, a dog symbolizes that good fortune is to come, especially during the Year of the Dog.

The Chinese Culture Connection presented a Chinese New Year Celebration on February 15 at the Medford Public Library to lead families in a cultural lesson and create Chinese greeting cards.

“China has a 12-year cycle. This is the 11th year,” Connection Executive Director Mei Hung said. “Puppies represent loyalty. Dogs are our best friends. The dog has the ability to see the spirit world, the dimension that human eyes cannot detect. They are also a symbol of prosperity.”

The Connection is a non-profit organization founded in Reading in 1985. It relocated to Malden in 1999 to support the increasing Asian immigrant population.

Participants decorated cards with dog bones, lanterns, and balloons during the gathering. Some cards displayed illustrations of dumpling platters, which represent family unity. The brightly colored cards, especially red, symbolize happiness and good luck. Others embellished cards with upside-down Chinese characters to represent that something, such as the springtime or prosperity, has arrived.

“We think it’s important to check out a different culture than he’s exposed to,” said former Medford resident Rodney Ward, who attended the event with his son, Devin, and wife, Melissa. “It’s also fun to do crafty things and meet people.”

The Ward family designed a train caboose pop-up card, while 9-year-old Nina, who can proudly read some of the Chinese language, created a three-dimensional heart card with her friend.

“I’m making a lantern,” said Nina. “I haven’t made one in a long time. I’m having fun.”

Hung hopes that this event will be a conduit of curiosity and enhance attendees’ appreciation of the Chinese culture. She aspires to promote intercultural harmony and foster an appreciation for the Chinese heritage through educational programs in schools, libraries, museums, and community centers.

“I think it’s important for kids to learn and have access to the local culture around us. The Chinese culture is exceptionally different because of its long history,” said Hung, who assisted the U.S. Postal Service in unveiling a stamp in honor of the Year of the Dog. “America is the best place to be because it’s within your reach. You don’t have to go to another country.”

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