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Lunar New Year 

Welcome to the year of the Water Tiger. The Lunar New Year begins February 1, and runs through January 21 2023. 

In countries where the Lunar New Year is celebrated, festivities can last for up to 16 days, and include special traditions, decorations, foods, and events.

Lunar New Year is often called Chinese New Year, but this important holiday is celebrated throughout much of Asia and around the world. Unlike the fixed January 1 start date for Western New Year’s Day, Lunar New Year is a movable feast, usually occurring on the day of the second new moon following the Winter Solstice—between January 21 and February 20.

Each year is associated with one of 12 zodiac animals and five elements. The Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig are combined with the elements wood, fire, earth, metal and water. 

The Tiger is a symbol of strength and fearlessness. This mythical animal has the power to vanquish evil and protect against misfortune, but it can also be cruel and is unpredictable.

Lunar New Year traditions vary widely throughout Asia and in Asian communities in the West, but there are some universal themes. This is a time of good fortune, a time for celebration and family, and for honoring one’s ancestors. 

Public celebrations of the Lunar New Year are once again limited by COVID-19, but there are more options this year than last.

The Golden Dragon Parade is tentatively back this year, on January 30, from 1-3:30 p.m. The West Coast’s oldest Lunar New Year Ceremony always begins at Thien Hau Temple in Downtown LA, and features Chinatown’s famous Golden Dragon Parade, followed by a vibrant street festival. Information on this year’s event is scarce, but the best source appears to be http://eventseeker.com/los-angeles/jan-30-2022/417534426-golden-dragon-parade

The Huntington Library and Garden’s Chinese New Year Festival on February 5 and 6. is a great outdoor option for families. The two-day event features lion dancers, a mask-changing artist, martial arts demonstrations, Chinese music, art and craft demonstrations, and more. Space is limited and  the event is expected to fill up fast. https://www.huntington.org/chinese-new-year-festival

The Disneyland Resort offers a fun but Americanized Lunar New Year celebration, which runs through February 13, and includes a parade: https://disneyland.disney.go.com/events-tours/lunar-new-year/ 

Masks and Coronavirus safety precautions are essential at all public festivities, and events may be canceled if there is a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases.

There are many ways to celebrate Lunar New Year’s at home. Food and household decorations are easy ways to honor this ancient holiday. Paper lanterns and fresh flowers are traditional New Year’s tokens. Pots of golden chrysanthemums grown especially for the holiday are already available at many grocery stores. Oranges, tangerines and kumquat; and meals featuring spring rolls, dumplings, noodles and all types of rice cakes, from savory fried rice balls to mochi-covered ice cream are all considered especially lucky for the New Year. 

Lunar New Year is at its heart an agrarian celebration, one that takes place in winter but celebrates the return of spring. It is a time to settle debts, connect with family, honor ancestors and pray for good fortune. While it’s great to start the new year with a clean house, the actual holiday isn’t the time for cleaning—one might accidentally sweep away one’s good luck. 

It’s traditional to avoid negativity or even negative words, and to embrace a positive and  appreciative state of mind to ensure good fortune and blessings in the year ahead. 

The Year of the Tiger is expected to bring a very different energy than that of the patient, hardworking, steady Ox that preceded it. The Tiger is wild, fierce, and unpredictable. This ancient Asian zodiac sign is said to bring an element of instability to its year, but it also issues a call to adventure. The element Water is fluid, and changeable, it amplifies emotions and adds another element of unpredictability to the mix. Be prepared to expect the unexpected during the Year of the Water Tiger—good or bad, it probably won’t be boring. 

Happy New Year!

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