The annual, Chinese New Year family day at Washington’s Smithsonian American Art Museum is getting bigger and bigger. It’s a ceremony is called “Awaken the Lion.” Giving the lion food helps, and so do red envelopes. He chews them up and spits them out to the crowd’s delight.

CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg reports.

Parents put their children on their shoulders just to get a glimpse of the scene. A large number of people who attended are non-Chinese, and that actually the point.

“We focus on the American experience,” Stephanie Stebich, the director of the museum said. “We love to see everyone come here with strollers, with grandparents, all learning a little bit about Chinese culture and also American connections.”

The event was co-sponsored by the Chinese Embassy. Li Hong, the cultural affairs counselor for the embassy, said the Smithsonian approached them five years ago to participate. It was an easy decision.

“I think the people’s understanding is the most important foundation of any country-to-country relations,” she said. “I think that culture-sharing, culture-exchange is really important in advancing people’s understanding and really bringing people together.”

The event showcased Chinese arts and crafts, including lanterns, pinwheels and umbrellas. Most of the children were happy to get their hands a little dirty.

“I think the world is so globalized now, that they need to know all about it,” said mother Paula Duarte on why she brought her daughter Isabella to the event. “Information is key, I guess, and culture is all around. So why not teach them all?”

It’s a message of inclusion and openness and it’s not a bad way to start the New Year, either.

The museumsits in the heart of Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown. Stebich said there’s a natural link between the two cultures, and she hoped events like family day would strengthen that.