Eden Center's Lunar New Year

If there is one single most celebrated holiday in the world, that’s New Year. Many East Asian countries celebrate new year for both the Solar Calendar (Gregorian Calendar) and the Lunar Calendar (Chinese Calendar). However, countries that do celebrate the Lunar New Year, such as China and Vietnam, celebrate it big. Government officials, merchants, farmers and students studying abroad would take the whole first month of the Lunar Calendar off, travel home and celebrate the traditional new year with family and friends.

In Northern Virginia, Eden Center hosts the largest Asian-American community, particularly the Vietnamese-American population. It is Falls Church City’s #1 tourist destination, one of the most historical and iconic centers in the city, and serves as a new home for many South-Vietnamese refugees after the fall of Saigon. It is an honor to be selected as Eden Center’s go-to illustrator for their biggest annual events, such as their Moon Festivals (also known as the Mid-Autumn Festivals) and their Lunar New Year celebrations.

The commissioned promotional illustration for the 2016 Lunar New Year celebration was one of my most exciting projects. Eden Center approached me a few months before the event to discuss about the upcoming new year promotional illustration, and since 2016 was going to be the Year of the Monkey, I knew this project will be a fun one.

Across Asia, from China, Thai, Cambodia, Korea to Japan, there is one mythical monkey that everybody adores and idolizes. In China, he is known as Sun Wukong, in Vietnamese he is named Ton Ngo Khong, and in English he is often called the Monkey King. He is an ancient mythical character that aids a monk on his journey to the west (India) to retrieve the Buddhist Sutras. He is undeniably one of the most popular icons in Asia, appearing very often in the Asian pop culture and media. For example, in the Dragon Ball series, one of the most popular Japanese comic series and later TV animation, the main character’s name is Son Goku, an adaptation or a resurrection of Sun Wukong. Son Goku is also the Japanese pronunciation of Sun Wukong. He recently appeared in the featured film The Forbidden Kingdom, played by Jet Lee. He appeared very often in Vietnamese media. 2016 is the Year of the Monkey, therefore incorporating Asia’s most famous monkey, the Monkey King Sun Wukong, or Ton Ngo Khong into the new year design is a must.

In the proposed design, the Monkey King was supposed to help with the lion dance, but being the monkey that he is, gets distracted by the scent and sign of his favorite fruit (peach) that was brought to him by a kid dressed in traditional Vietnamese attire. Surrounding the performance is a crowd of various cultures and nations, all gathering to enjoy Tet, or Lunar New Year at Eden Center. Since Eden Center is located in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, the background of the design show the Washington Monument and the Capitol Building. This was one of my most exciting projects, yet.