By Michele E. Buttelman
In October a bill signed by Governor Gavin Newsom made Lunar New Year an official state holiday in California. AB 2596 recognized Lunar New Year as one of the most important festivals celebrated across Asian countries and Asian communities. Festivities can last up to two weeks.
The holiday falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice on Dec. 21. The date changes each year and usually falls sometime between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20.
This year the Lunar New Year will begin on Sunday, Jan. 22, and last until Feb. 5, the date of the rising of the full “Snow Moon.”
The law signed by Newsom will give California state employees the option to use eight hours of vacation, annual leave, or compensating time off in lieu of receiving eight hours of personal holiday credit to observe the Lunar New Year.
“Recognizing this day as a state holiday acknowledges the diversity and cultural significance Asian Americans bring to California and provides an opportunity for all Californians to participate in the significance of the Lunar New Year,” said Newsom.
Year of the ‘Water Rabbit’
On Jan. 22 we will say goodbye to the “Year of the Water Tiger 2022” and transition to the “Year of the Water Rabbit” according to the Chinese Zodiac.
The Lunar New Year celebrates a chance to leave behind the troubles of the past year and invite prosperity and good luck moving forward.
The sign of Rabbit is a symbol of longevity, peace and prosperity in Chinese culture. People born in a year of the Rabbit are called “Rabbits” and are believed to be vigilant, witty, quick-minded and ingenious.
The year 2023 is seen to be a year of hope.
How to Celebrate
More than over a billion people celebrate Lunar New Year each year with fireworks, parades and with the exchange of red envelopes filled with money.
Different cultures celebrate the Lunar New Year in different ways. Known as Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year or Spring Festival the celebrations often include dragon dances, remembering ancestors and family reunions. The celebrations often conclude with a lantern festival.
In Asian countries most people will decorate their homes for the New Year on Lunar New Year’s Eve. Houses are decorated with red lanterns, paper cuttings and New Year’s paintings.
The Lunar New Year’s Eve reunion dinner is a “must-do” dinner with all family members reuniting. It is common for family members to travel long distances to be with family for this important holiday.
Dishes associated with luck, wealth, family and longevity must be included in the dinner. Food such as fish, dumplings, Nian Gao (a sticky rice cake) and spring rolls are believed to bring good luck for the coming year.
Many Lunar New Year foods are symbolic and how the food is served, such as a whole fish, or a whole chicken is important.
Serving fish, dumplings, fruit, a whole chicken, spring rolls, steamed pork belly and various vegetables are symbolic of increased wealth and prosperity.
Long, uncut noodles are a symbol of a long life.
Eating sweet rice balls is believed to bring family unity.
Displaying and eating tangerines and oranges is believed to bring good luck and fortune.
SoCal Lunar New Year Celebrations
Disney California Adventure Park
1313 Disneyland Drive,
Anaheim, CA 92802
Celebrate the Year of the Rabbit at Disney California Adventure Park from Jan. 20 through Feb. 15. This joyous celebration commemorates traditions of Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cultures, with Disney characters featuring Mulan, Mushu, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in their festive attire, plus “Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession,” two new culinary marketplaces (for a total of six), kid-friendly crafts, the Lucky Wishes Wall, and the return of “Hurry Home – Lunar New Year Celebration” presented prior to “World of Color.”
LA Zoo Lights and Lunar New Year
Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens
5333 Zoo Drive,
Los Angeles, CA 90027
The Los Angeles Zoo is celebrating Lunar New Year as part of its L.A. Zoo Lights: Animals Aglow event. Friday, Saturday and Sunday night, through Jan. 22 the Zoo will host special activities including a glow-in-the-dark dragon dance parade, lion dance show, kung fu showcase and acrobatics, fan dancers, calligraphy, a Wall of Well Wishes, food trucks and more.
Golden Dragon Lunar New Year Parade
Starting at Broadway and ending at Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
The 124th Golden Dragon Parade will be held Jan. 28 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. presented by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles. This colorful celebration along North Broadway in Chinatown has become the premiere cultural event in the Southern California Asian-American community. The Golden Dragon Parade remains the longest-running Lunar New Year parade outside China. The parade initially started in the late 1800s as a government response to help bridge racial divides and invoke greater understanding for the Chinese immigrants who came to Los Angeles.
O.C. Lantern Festival 2023
Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall
615 Town Center Drive,
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Free family event Feb. 18 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Lantern Festival, which can be traced back 2,000 years, marks the return of spring and the reunion of family. The act of lighting and appreciating lanterns is a way for people to let go of the burdens of their old selves and express their best wishes for themselves and their families for the future.
Pacific Symphony and South Coast Chinese Cultural Center/Irvine Chinese School join in presenting this free family-friendly festival with music, dance, art making, riddles and food.
Admission is free, but tickets are required. Select General Admission $0.00 ticket when asked to choose your seating section.