Chinese New Year in the West

Modern Chinese-American celebrations

Jennifer Fong

Staff Writer

    As a Chinese-American living in the Bay Area, an area known for a large Asian community because of its proximity to Angel Island, I celebrate Chinese New Year a little differently, and a little less traditionally than in mainland China. There are small changes that set apart Western celebration of Chinese new year apart from the mainland.

    Starting the morning of new year’s eve, my family cleaned the house from top to bottom to have a fresh start for the year. Next, we hung red and gold decorations in the doorways to invite good luck into the household. Once that was over, we washed ourselves to be fresh for the new year. After, we visited San Francisco to watch the performances in Chinatown.

    In San Francisco, specifically Chinatown, parades and festivities are everywhere. Lion dances move through the streets, courtesy of many kung fu academies or elementary schools. Not to be confused with dragon dances, in which people hold up sticks that move sections of a dragon’s body, lion dances usually have two performers inside–one for the front legs and one for the back legs. The lion weaves through the crowd as a display of strength and elegance. This year was no exception; the performers weaved up and down the street and cuddled up to children towards the front of the crowd of spectators.

    When we got back around eight in the evening, we had dinner, consisting of takeout black pepper beef, pan fried noodles, dumplings, and, of course, a lot of rice. To cap the evening off, my parents gave me a red envelope with money to ward off bad luck in the coming year. And with that, the Year of the Sheep ends and the Year of the Monkey begins.

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