Saturday I had the privilege of attending the Karen New Year’s celebration in Utica with JoAnne and other teachers from our church’s ESL ministry. First we were invited to an early lunch at the Utica Karen Wesleyan Church with many traditional ethnic foods. I enjoyed sampling the different dishes. Then we went to the gym at Mohawk Valley Community College for the main celebration.
I learned that while the holiday itself only dates back to about 1939 during the British colonial administration, the Karen people count their years from the time they migrated as a people to Burma, about 739 B.C. The New Year was celebrated with the blowing of a ceremonial animal horn and beating of a drum. Then there were traditional dances in beautiful colorful costumes. One was the ‘banboo’ dance where participants danced in between moving poles. One of the neatest parts was the honoring the elders. About fifteen of the oldest people were brought forward and seated on the side. A line of young men came out and recognized them followed by a line of young ladies bearing gifts. Then one of the elders spoke.
When I download from my camera I hope to include some pictures. As the pictures will show, our ESL teachers were among those honored at the celebration for their help given to the Karen people.