In Chinese zodiac lore, the dragon is stately, proud, fiery, and passionate. And if you’re turning 12, 24, 36, 48 (or another multiple of 12) this year, congratulations, noble dragon, 2012 is all you! Here are some ideas for how you can celebrate the Chinese New Year on January 23 in Kansas City.
1. Join Winter Reading
Our annual Adult Winter Reading program  began on January 9, and if you haven’t signed up yet, this is the perfect way to get started on your New Year’s resolution to read more great literature – and celebrate the Chinese New Year in one swoop. The theme this year is Destination: Anywhere!, and the reading list  will take you to far-flung places, including, of course, China. Start off with Pearl S. Buck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of pre-revolutionary China, The Good Earth , or delve into Jung Chang’s multigenerational family history, Wild Swans . Get more suggested readings and sign up for Winter Reading here .
2. Attend the Greater Kansas City Chinese New Year Celebration
A day of free family activities will be held on Sunday, January 22, at the Carlsen Center of Johnson County Community College (12345 College Boulevard). Beginning at 9 a.m. with a Chinese speech contest, the Greater Kansas City Chinese New Year Celebration  also includes a dance competition, children’s activities, and performances by students from Beijing China. Last year, 3,000 people attended this all-day event, which ends with a ticketed New Year Gala at 7 p.m. It’s sponsored by our friends at the Kansas City Chinese American Association , the Edgar Snow Memorial Fund, and the Confucius Institute of KU .
3. Watch a Hong Kong Action Flick
With leading men such as Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Chow Yun Fat, Hong Kong cinema has for years churned out a brilliant miasma of flying fists and ricocheting bullets. Head down to the Stanley H. Durwood Film Vault  at Central – or the A/V collection at any branch – and load up on cheap (and in most cases, free) DVDs to ring in the New Year with cinematic film-fu.
4. Make a Paper Craft
If you’re looking for the right way to make a paper lantern or firecracker for Chinese New Year, skip the Google how-to crapshoot and check out a book. Karen Bledsoe’s Chinese New Year Crafts , for one, contains 32 pages of craft-project goodness. You’ll find it right next to Making Chinese Papercuts , Traditional Crafts from China  and more user-friendly guides to Chinese-themed crafting for kids.
5. Check out a Chinese Children’s Book
Speaking of kids, don’t be caught without a seasonally appropriate story to tell this Sunday to the little ones. Over on the Library’s "Keyword: Kids" blog, Westport librarian Sukalaya Kenworthy has assembled a list of Chinese New Year-themed reads for kids , alongside some memories of celebrating the holiday in her native Thailand.
6. Find a Dragon at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
The Chinese art collection at the Nelson-Atkins Museum is among the finest in the nation. Read up on the dragons in the gallery , and check out the museum’s own Chinese New Year celebration . On Friday, January 27, from 5 to 9 p.m., the museum offers an evening of events, including a performance by the Shaolin Lohan Pai Lion Dance Troupe, traditional music, Chinese yo-yos, and more. It’s free, but tickets are required.
7. Read Red Star Over China and Plan to Attend Meet the Past: Edgar Snow
On March 1, 2012, see local history come to life on the set of the the Lyric Opera’s production of Nixon in China at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts , where actor Robert Gibby Brand will portray famed journalist Edgar Snow for a new edition of Meet the Past with Crosby Kemper III. A native of Kansas City, Snow authored Red Star Over China , the 1937 book that introduced Mao Tse-Tung and his Red Army to westerners. (This performance will offer a new version of the Meet the Past: Edgar Snow  production that took place last fall.)
About the Author
Jason Harper  is the web content developer and social media manager at the Kansas City Public Library.