“May you have a new year filled with luck!”  Traditional Chinese New Year Wish

Chinese New Year, or Lunar New Year, occurs on January 22nd this year, and is celebrated until February 9th

The date is based on the lunar and solar calendars, (named a lunisolar calendar that is common in Asian, Hebrew, Babylonian and other cultures), and varies from year to year.  This calendar is agricultural in nature, and dates from 1050 B.C.  The first day of the Chinese New Year begins on the new moon that occurs between January 21st and February 20th.  This New Year marks the transition from the Year of the Tiger (2022) to the Year of the Rabbit (2023).  The Rabbit is a symbol of longevity, peace and prosperity.

An ancient Chinese legend tells of a terrible beast, or “Nian,” that visited every Lunar New Year’s Eve to eat people and livestock. 

The people displayed red paper, burned bamboo and wore red clothes to scare away the “Nian,” and the custom persisted.  Chinese New Year customs include thoroughly cleaning the house and decorating the house in red. Visiting ancestors’ graves, and offering sacrifices to ancestors is an important tradition as well.  After paying respects to the ancestors, the custom is to enjoy a family dinner on Lunar New Year’s Eve and include special foods like rice cakes, noodles and dumplings that represent money, long life, and prosperity.  Other traditions include exchanging gifts and red envelopes of money, setting off fireworks and firecrackers, and watching lion or dragon dances and parades.

Here in the Bay Area, there are many celebrations in different neighborhoods to celebrate Lunar New Year, most of them having taken place in January.

San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Parade rounds up the celebration on Saturday, February 4, 2023, from 5:15pm-8:00pm.  This venerable granddaddy of parades takes place in Chinatown, beginning at Second and Market St., and celebrates the parade’s return after an absence due to COVID.  It is one of the largest Chinese New Year parades in the world, with a history stretching back to the 1800s. Come early to enjoy the street fair in the immediate area, or spend the day looking for the rabbit statues placed around San Francisco as part of public art project “Rabbit on Parade,” presented by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce. If you don’t want to stand during the parade, you can get bleacher seats that range in price between $35 and $55 per person on chineseparade.com.