Updated: Feb 2
Lunar New Year is one of the most important holiday celebrations of Chinese and several Asian cultures. It has been celebrated for over 14 centuries, with each year commemorating one of the 12 zodiac animals of the Lunar Calendar and corresponding elements.
The celebration begins with the first New Moon of the year and spans the first 15 days of the Lunar calendar, usually taking place between January and February.
This year is the Year of the Water Tiger, which is seen every 60 years. It represents strength, tenacity, and bravery.
Lunar New Year is celebrated in various ways according to culture, all with the central theme of renewal, abundance, and good fortune. In China, the festival harkens back to the country's roots in agriculture, traditionally marking an occasion to celebrate the Spring harvest and welcome good crops in times to come while honoring ancestors.
Since 1996, the Chinese government has designated the Lunar New Year celebration as a week-long holiday, allowing people to take time off of work and school and celebrate the holiday with loved ones.
Lunar New Year in NYC
Given New York City's rich Chinese and overall Asian presence, it should come as no surprise that Lunar New Year is celebrated throughout all five boroughs, which are collectively home to a total of nine Chinatowns.
NYC's original Chinatown, located in Manhattan, came about during the 1870s as a refuge for Chinese immigrants escaping anti-Chinese sentiments and legislation in the Western United States. The population of the area quickly grew, developing its own economic ecosystem and electing community leaders. Today, Manhattan's Chinatown alone is home to over 100,000 residents and signifies the largest concentrated Chinese population in the Western Hemisphere.
In Manhattan, Chinatown's Lunar New Year Parade and Festival is the centerpiece of the borough's celebrations.
In addition to a parade, the festival, which is currently in its 24th year, will include various food and artisan vendors in Kimlau Square in Park Row in addition to other activities. It takes place February 24.
Another popular festival in the city is the Queens Botanical Garden's Lunar New Year Celebration, which is held February 5 in Flushing. In addition to guided tours and children's scavenger hunts, the celebration includes traditional Chinese dance performances, crafts, and artist speaking engagements.
Flushing is also home to the Lunar New Year Chinese Documentary Film Festival, which showcases the works of some of China's premier documentary filmmakers and allows attendees to learn more about Chinese-American culture.
Another can't-miss event is the New York Philharmonic's Lunar New Year concert, which features the talents of famed Chinese violinist Stella Chen and acclaimed South Korean soprano vocalist Hera Hyesang.
For more information on Lunar New Year and where to celebrate the holiday in New York City, visit the New York Chinese Cultural Center website.