Traditionally, big Chinese celebrations always begin with fireworks, but security details frown on fireworks in the Capitol, state leaders joked Monday evening as they celebrated the Lunar New Year outside the Governor's Office.
Today marked the beginning of the 2019 Lunar New Year — the Year of the Pig. For the second year in a row, on the eve of the new year, the Governor's Office celebrated the event by decorating with red banners on each side of and one above his office door.
Red is an important color in Chinese tradition, believed to ward off evil spirits — black and white, both associated with bad luck, are avoided during the celebration. The banners contain poems wishing good luck for the year.
The banner over the top of the door signifies the vision from a high vantage point. From there, you can see the best of the best for the state, according to administrators of the Columbia Chinese Language School.
More luck was added as Gov. Mike Parson and Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe attached symbols — couplets or Du lin — to the door.
"The governor needs a lot of luck," Kehoe joked. "Afterwards, can you hang it on my door and the House and the Senate? We'd be all set for the year."
The celebration did indeed kick off with fireworks, but they were electronic. Following the fireworks, accompanied by a thumping traditional drum beat, students performed a dance in a dragon costume.
Then, younger students sang a pair of Chinese songs.
Missouri celebrates the Lunar New Year with China.
Kehoe said one of his jobs is to go around and promote agricultural products of Missouri, and the state's hog farmers are happy to celebrate the Year of the Pig.
"I've heard many people in this building say this many times — that we are one Missouri," Kehoe said. "We are not rural versus urban. We are not one culture versus another culture."
The more Missourians understand other cultures, the better they can move forward, he said.
The banners talk about good fortune and good luck, Parson said. The banner over the top of the door, discussing the best of the best, really does reflect the diversity and the people who represent Missouri, he said.
"And this was the first time I've ever come face-to-face with a dragon," Parson said. "It's great to be here with you today and celebrate different meanings for different countries."
"We're excited to have this opportunity to share in the diversity and cultural traditions of all Missourians," he said. "We are grateful for the support of the people of Missouri and the well wishes for success, good will, prosperity, that are all written on these red banners."