Our Islands, Our Future

Dr. Busaba Yip, cultural director and docent of the Wo Hing Museum, Society Hall and Cookhouse is slowly recovering from the August 8th wildfires. Losing everything—home, business, personal possessions—she could only weep the first few days. Yet, while the Lahaina fire destroyed all the Wo Hing buildings, it did not destroy Yip’s commitment to keep hope alive, to rebuild and restore.

In years past, Chinese New Year (CNY) was celebrated at Wo Hing with lion dances, Chinese artifacts and music, tea celebrations, and numerous fun activities. “While grieving Lahaina’s losses, we can still celebrate new beginnings at the various CNY events on Maui,” said Yip. “February 10th begins the year of the Wood Dragon. That day we will have a CNY offering and display table with Chinese artifacts at the Upcountry Farmers Market from 8am-11am. Plus, Kwock Hing Temple in Kula will have a CNY celebration February 25th at 11am.” 

The date for CNY is determined by the lunar calendar. Each year, the date falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. The ancient Chinese calendar is based on the 12-year cycle of the animal zodiac. This tradition recounts 12 mythical animals descending from heaven to usher in spring and a new harvest, with each year assigned to one of the twelve animals. Each year, CNY is also associated with one of the five elements: earth, wood, fire, metal, and water. In 2024, wood and dragon take center stage, making it the Year of the Wood Dragon. The dragon, a mythical and powerful animal, brings hope for growth, and renewal.

Yip added, “Inspiring imagination and leadership, the Year of the Wood Dragon is a time to celebrate with family, friends, fireworks, and lanterns. A tray of sweetmeats called Chuen-hop (togetherness) is also shared. It is a time to reflect on our lives over the past year, to plan for the future, and to try to recreate what Wo Hing used to be. Right now, though, my wish for the community is to be safe, and to have a healthy and happy New Year as we rebuild our West Side and island community together.”

The most common greetings heard are Kung Hee Fat Choy, May Wealth and Prosperity Be Yours, and Sen Nien Fai Lok, Happy New Year! Dr. Busaba Yip Cultural Director & Docent Wo Hing Museum, Society Hall and Cookhouse