Celebrate the Chinese New Year: Local Events

Happy Chinese New Year!  The Year of the Horse

The Chinese New Year is a 15-day event that starts with the New Moon on the first day of the new year and ends on the full moon 15 days later. The first day of the year can fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February. The celebration includes dedicating each year to a specific animal. The Dragon, Horse, Monkey, Rat, Boar, Rabbit, Dog, Rooster, Ox, Tiger, Snake, and Ram are the twelve animals that are part of this tradition.

In 2014, on the Western calendar, the start of the New Year falls on January 31st and is The Year of the Horse. During this important celebration in the Asian culture, it is traditional to wear red, meant to ward off evil spirits.

The following is a guide, compliments of about.com, to the 2014 Chinese New Year events in Washington DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia.

In Maryland

  • Gaithersburg Chinese New Year Events
    January 27-February 9, 2014. Lakeforest Mall, 701 Russell Avenue, Gaithersburg, Maryland. View beautiful Chinese New Year decorations and exhibits throughout the mall. Live entertainment (weekends, noon-5:00 p.m.) includes traditional lion and dragon dances, folk dances and martial arts demonstrations. Demonstrations and workshops include flower/bonsai arrangement, arts and crafts, painting and games.
  • Chinese New Year at Montgomery County Public Libraries
    Thirteen branches of the public libraries welcome the new year with a variety of programs. Music, dance and special performances feature the sights, sounds and cultures of China, Korea and Vietnam. Programs include introduction to customs behind the Lunar New Year, traditional dances, hands-on art activities, puppet shows, healing and martial arts demonstrations including tai-chi and kung fu, calligraphy, crafts, customs, Chinese yo-yo, workshops and children’s activities, and the traditional Chinese lion dance. For specific schedules, visit the Montgomery County Public Libraries website

In Washington, DC

  • Chinese New Year Parade and Festival in Washington, DC
    February 2, 2014, 2-4:30 p.m. Chinatown – on H Street, NW, between 6th and 8th Streets. Each year a parade is held in Chinatown to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The event features the traditional Chinese Dragon Dance, Kung Fu demonstrations and live musical entertainment.

    Celebrate from 12-5 p.m. at the Chinatown Lunar New Year Festival, Chinatown Community Cultural Center, 616 H Street, NW Washington, DC. Programs and activities will include: live music and dance performances, traditional Chinese calligraphy, children’s crafts, face painting, tai chi and kung fu demonstrations, lion dancing, poetry readings, film screenings, art and photo exhibits, raffle prizes, New Year souvenirs, free giveaways, and much more. Special guest performances by: Wong People and students of Yu Ying Public Charter School.

  • Chinese New Year Dining Specials in Washington DC
    Throughout the month of February, many restaurants in the Washington DC area offer specials in celebration of the Chinese New Year. Celebrate the “Year of the Horse” with special tasting menus.

In Northern Virginia

  • Chinese New Year Festival – Falls Church
    February 1, 2014, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Luther Jackson Middle School, 3020 Gallows Road, Falls Church, VA. The event, hosted by the Asian Community Service Center, offers performances from China, Korea, India, Thailand, Vietnam, among others including the beautiful Chinese sword dance; Dragon Parade, fashion show, Asian plant art, Asian foods, Chinese cooking demo, teaching of Chinese characters, crafts, kids activities and more. FREE Admission.
  • Fair Oaks Mall Lunar New Year Celebration
    February 1-2, 2014, 1-6 p.m. Fair Oaks Mall, 11750 Fair Oaks, Fairfax, VA. Ceremonies, performances and exhibitions will be presented from each day, with most of the events centered in the Fair Oaks Mall Grand Court. Presented by the Washington Hai Hua Community Center, the event will feature traditional Chinese dragon dances; music and dance performances; martial arts demonstrations; children’s crafts; and a special lantern festival. More than 200 performers will participate in this year’s Lunar New Year festival, representing such countries and regions as China, Korea, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Mongolia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Polynesia and the 50th state of Hawaii.

Happy or SAD this holiday season? Seasonal Affective Disorder

To everything, there is a season. Our physical and emotional health is no exception. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is nationally recognized during the month of December and throughout winter, is an example of how a change in seasons can affect our wellbeing.

Between 4 and 6 percent of the U.S. population suffer from SAD. It is more commonly observed in those who live at high latitudes (areas farther away from the equator to the north and south). Seasonal changes are generally more extreme in these regions, supporting the idea that SAD is caused by changes in sunlight availability.

Seasonal Affective Disorder can occur during summer with limited symptoms such as weight loss, trouble sleeping, and decreased appetite. Winter symptoms tend to be more severe. They include fatigue, increased need for sleep, decreased energy levels, weight gain, increase in appetite, difficulty concentrating, and increased desire to be alone.

The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine states that, “People and nature are inseparable.” The TCM yin and yang forces of the seasons coincide with those of the body. While yang’s warmth, activity, and brightness work throughout the spring and summer months, yin’s passivity, coldness, and darkness begin in autumn and continue until spring equinox. Therefore, the winter months, which represent the height of the yin cycle and the water element, can cause those whose constitution tends toward yin to feel the effects of this season more acutely.

Energetic imbalances, which are associated with emotional and physical disturbances in the body, can become more pronounced after a change in weather and sunlight. Western medicine currently treats seasonal affective disorder with light therapy and sometimes with antidepressants. The downside to these therapies is that they carry side effects such as eyestrain, headache, irritability, fatigue, insomnia, palpitations, high blood pressure, and reduced libido. Also, these therapies do not address the underlying problems, but merely offer symptom relief.

Acupuncture, which has shown promising results treating depression by releasing serotonin and noradrenaline-norepinephrine, has no side effects. Together with a treatment plan created by a licensed acupuncturist, acupuncture can improve balance of mood and energy, relieving the patient from the burdens of a depressed, unbalanced system.

The winter months are associated with the Kidney system, which is the base of qi, our vital energy. The Kidney creates fire and warmth and provides energy to other organs. As our bodies use up energy keeping warm, they begin to crave quick sources of new energy in high calorie foods, which are stored as fat to keep the body warm. These foods do not sustain energy levels in the body, nor do they properly nourish the Kidney, and with this energy depletion we tend to feel more lethargic and sensitive to our surroundings. This is why winter is a time to seek replenishment of body, mind and spirit.

Nourishment in all areas of life is especially important during the winter months when SAD is most common. Although many people head indoors during winter, it is important to continue outdoor activities to expose yourself to daylight, and to take part in activities that support inner balance. Physical and mental stress, as well as poor sleep and nutrition, further deplete the body’s energy and leave you susceptible to illness. You should rest and conserve energy, but also spend time with friends and loved ones, cultivate your inner dialogue and eat a well balanced diet. Eating less fruits, increasing whole grain intake and plenty of warming foods such as soup, is a great way to nourish the Kidney system.

Oriental medicine can restore the balance our bodies seek during seasonal transitions. While the tendency is to look inward or become preoccupied with one area of our health, such as maintaining energy and keeping warm, it is important to remember that balance in everything from your diet to your living environment is essential in sustaining a positive outlook and a healthy mood.

– See more at: http://www.pacificcollege.edu/acupuncture-massage-news/articles/439-seasonal-affective-disorder.html#sthash.DgARbWgL.dpuf

Gui Zhi aka Cinnamon

Gui Zhi


Alternate names:                                                                              
Pharmaceutical: Ramulus Cinnamomi Cassiae
Botanical: Cinnamomum Cassia
Japanese: keishi
Korean: kyeji
Common:  cinnamon twig

The practice of Traditional Chinese medicine incorporates the use of many herbs and plants.  Gui Zhi, also known as cinnamon, is used frequently in Chinese herbal medicine. It is pungent and sweet in flavor and warm in nature.   It may be used for some types of cold or flu, arthritis, and digestive issues.  Also, it is often used for menstrual irregularities and cramps, water retention and poor circulation.  Read more in an article from Acupuncture Today.

Acupuncture as good as counseling for depression

By Andrew M. Seaman
NEW YORK | Tue Sep 24, 2013 5:02pm EDT

People with depression may benefit as much from acupuncture as they do from counseling, suggests a new study.

Researchers found one in three patients was no longer depressed after three months of acupuncture or counseling, compared to one in five who received neither treatment.

“For people who have depression, who have tried various medical options, who are still not getting the benefit they want, they should try acupuncture or counseling as options that are now known to be clinically effective,” said Hugh MacPherson, the study’s lead author from the University of York in the UK. (more…)

Acupuncture Boosts IVF Success

Treatment by acupuncture

Acupuncture ‘boosts IVF success’
BBC News

Women undergoing fertility treatment could have their chances of success boosted by acupuncture.

German researchers said they have increased success rates by almost 50% in women having in vitro fertilisation (IVF).

The theory is that acupuncture can affect the autonomic nervous system, which is involved in the control of muscles and glands, and could therefore make the lining of the uterus more receptive to receiving an embryo. (more…)