2014 is the Year of the Horse 4712, which kicks off on January 31, 2014 and continues through February 18, 2015.
THE CHINESE NEW YEAR PARADE: DRAGONS AND LIONS
The most popular event of the Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival is the Chinese New Year Parade. The actual date is determined by the Chinese lunar calendar and falls in late January or early February. The celebrations last for 15 days, although today, many families celebrate for five. Since the New Year’s festival traditionally marks the beginning of the planting season in China, a major character is a dragon, bringer of rain and good luck.
In China, the dragon is held in high esteem for its dignity and power for good. Today, highlights of Chinese New Year parades include the huge, undulating cloth dragon and prancing lions, which make their way through narrow streets of Chinatowns around the world. They are accompanied by three musicians playing a large drum, cymbals and a gong, who play loudly to chase the evil spirits away.
The mask of the lion is made from paper-maché and bamboo, and fits over a dancer’s shoulders. The dancer can move the lion’s eyes, mouth and ears with his hands. The lion’s body, which is attached to the head, consists of a long piece of cloth. It is often decorated with sequins and mock fur. Lion Dances are used to expel evil spirits and bring good luck.
The dragon is a huge puppet. The mask made of bamboo or paper-maché is worn by one man, and the long body of brightly colored cloth is carried by the many dancers hidden beneath it.
RED AND CHINESE NEW YEAR TRADITIONS
Red is my favorite color. It symbolizes fire and during Chinese New Year, Chinese wear the color red because it is believed that wearing red will scare away evil spirits and bad fortune.
Lia Chang in her custom-tailored red cheongsam from Hong Kong. The cheongsam or qipao (chipao) was created in the 1920s in Shanghai and was made fashionable by socialites and upper-class women.
My grandfather brought this robe from China for my grandmother.
My mother gave me this jade bracelet, which was given to her by my great-grandmother, during a Chinese New Year’s eve dinner many years ago. The Lai See (red envelopes) with our family Chinese name were given to be my Auntie Pauline. Traditionally, Red envelopes are given during Chinese New Year’s celebrations, from married couples or the elderly to unmarried children. The number 8 is considered lucky (for its homophone for “wealth”), and $8 is commonly found in the red envelopes.
FESTIVALS, EVENTS & PARADES
Lunar New Year Bazaar in Oakland: Held in the heart of Oakland’s Chinatown Jan. 18 & 19 2014, the two-day celebration welcomes the Lunar New Year with a vibrant bazaar. In addition to perusing the bounty of goods brought by vendors—traditional New Year decorations, flowers, gifts, candies and more—guests can enjoy live cultural entertainment, such as dragon and lion dancing, martial arts and Chinese cultural music. www.oaklandchinatownchamber.org/lunarbazaar
Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Festival & Parade in San Francisco: A San Francisco tradition since the Gold Rush, the Parade and Festival has grown into the largest celebration of Asian culture outside of Asia, and continues to delight and entertain thousands of people every year. Beginning Jan. 25, 2014, the Festival will feature an array of events—Flower Market Fair, Miss Chinatown Pageant and Coronation Ball, Chinese Chamber of Commerce Basketball Jamboree, the YMCA 10K/5K Walk, the Chinatown Community Street Fair—and culminate with the Chinese New Year Parade on Feb. 15, where gorgeous floats, elaborate costumes, ferocious lions, exploding firecrackers and the newly crowned Miss Chinatown U.S.A. will create a one-of-a-kind lunar New Year celebration. Bleacher seats will be available for the parade at $30.00. www.chineseparade.com
115th Annual Golden Dragon Parade & Chinese New Year Festival: The weekend of Feb. 1- 2 will be full of fun activities for all ages at the Central Plaza in Los Angeles. Beginning with the 115th Annual Golden Dragon Parade on Saturday, Feb. 1, guests are invited to enjoy hundreds of spectacular floats, decked out cars, dancers and bands as they parade down the heart of LA Chinatown. The Chinese New Year Festival commences after the parade with cultural performances by some of the nation’s best Chinese acts. Enjoy cultural workshops and eat your heart out with cooking demonstrations executed by Chinatown’s favorite chefs, or sample the many gourmet food trucks at the event. The weekend events are free and open to the public. www.ChinatownLA.com
Lunar New Year at Universal Studios Hollywood: Universal Plaza, at the heart of Universal Studios Hollywood, will be the hub of elaborate red ornamentation and a grand celebration honoring the Year of the Horse Jan. 30 to Feb. 9. In addition to performances and awe-inspiring displays of Chinese heritage, there will be interactive opportunities to take part in centuries-old traditions. Decor will also welcome visitors as they arrive at the front gates of the Entertainment Capital of L.A., and the theme will continue through the main thoroughfare of the theme park. www.ush.cn or www.universalstudioshollywood.com
Beverly Hills Celebrates Chinese New Year: Feb. 8 ushers in a public Chinese New Year celebration on world-famous Rodeo Drive between Wilshire Boulevard and Dayton Way beginning at 4:30pm. Performances will include a ceremonial lion dance, fashion show highlighting ancient traditional Chinese dress, martial arts, folk dancers, acrobats, ribbon dancers, Man of Many Faces and more. Holiday offerings will begin February 8 and continue throughout the month of February. “Storm Castle,” a striking horse sculpture by famed sculptor Deborah Butterfield will be on display at Two Rodeo throughout the month. At 2,500 pounds, the unique sculpture is created by constructing a horse form from gathered wood. Each piece is then cast in bronze by the artist and meticulously reconstructed. “Good Fortune” envelopes filled with special offers for local dining, shopping and attractions will also be available all month. Plus, travelers can experience Chinese hotel packages with Chinese amenities and services and special rates. Participating hotels include AKA Beverly Hills, The Beverly Hilton, Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel and Montage Beverly Hills. www.lovebeverlyhills.com/horse
Disneyland Resorts’ Lunar New Year Celebrations (February 2014): Disneyland Resorts in Anaheim offers a Lunar New Year Celebration for park guests that pays tribute to the Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cultural traditions. The celebration includes musicians, dancers and appearances by Mulan, Mushu and other Disney characters. www.disneyland.com
La Quinta Resort & Club Celebration: La Quinta Resort & Club, a Waldorf Astoria Resort will honor annual Chinese traditions with a fresh desert spin, hosting its first annual Year of the Horse Celebration (public welcome) Saturday, Feb. 1. Starting at 5:30 p.m., the event kicks off with a variety of family games and activities, authentic Chinese-influenced food and beverage specials and an ongoing video presentation. At 7:00 p.m., the festivities heat up with a colorful dragon parade and acrobatic performance and culminate with an elaborate fireworks display over the resort. http://waldorfastoria3.hilton.com/en/hotels/california/la-quinta-resort-and-club-a-waldorf-astoria-resort-PSPLQWA/index.html
Asian Lunar New Year Family Festival at the Bowers Museum: On Feb. 2, 2014 the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana will celebrate the Chinese New Year with a special festival featuring live entertainment, hands-on art activities and free admission to the exhibitions. www.bowers.org
San Diego’s 32nd Annual Chinese New Year and Cultural Fair: Come celebrate the auspicious year ahead at the Chinese New Year Food and Cultural Fair Feb. 8-9, 2014 at Third and J Street in downtown San Diego. This is free, fun-packed event features cultural performances, children’s crafts, a lantern parade and a wide variety of Chinese and Asian food booths. Visitors can also stop by the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum to learn about San Diego Chinatown’s history to enjoy the traditional garden with a koi pond. www.sdcny.org
Nevada City Chinese Lunar New Year Festival : On Sunday, Feb. 9, the Sierra Foothills welcomes the “Year of the Horse” with the Nevada City Chinese Lunar New Year Festival. Sponsored by the Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra (CATS), the Festival starts off with a parade at noon at the Chinese Monument on Commercial Street (in Nevada City) and heads to the Robinson Plaza for entertainment and festivities. To ward off evil spirits and bring blessings and prosperity to all, the event will feature fierce and fiery lion dancers from Eastern Ways Martial Arts of Sacramento. www.catsweb.org
Annual Chinese New Year Festival at the Bay Area Discovery Museum: Families are invited to welcome the “Year of the Horse” at Bay Area Discovery Museum’s annual celebration of the Chinese New Year Feb. 17. Purchase a theatre ticket to see a vibrant performance by the Chinese Performing Arts of America Youth Group. Try your hand at calligraphy or make a kite in the Art Studio. Delicious Chinese food will be on sale, or make your own traditional sweet pastry and we’ll cook it for you. Don’t miss the free outdoor demonstrations by the spectacular lion dancers of the Dragon Horse Lion Dance Team and the Marin Chinese Cultural Association. General admission is $11. http://www.baykidsmuseum.org/programs-and-events/chinese-new-year-festival
Stockton’s Annual Chinese New Year Festival: This annual cultural celebration will take place downtown Sunday, Mar. 3 2014, and will feature a parade, dance performances, food, vendors and much more free family fun. www.stocktoncnyc.org/
WINE & DINE
WP24 Restaurant and Lounge Welcomes the “Year of the Horse”: Located on the 24th floor of The Ritz-Carlton in downtown Los Angeles, Wolfgang Puck’s modern Chinese restaurant WP24 Restaurant and Lounge invites guests to bid farewell to the “Year of the Snake” and welcome the “Year of the Horse” with a decadent 10-course Chinese New Year tasting menu, complete with the acclaimed restaurant’s signature dishes, as well as a contemporary interpretation of traditional holiday favorites. A fine dining experience with a dramatic background and breath-taking panoramic views of the city, the WP24 dining room will also feature a classic “Wishing Tree” adorned with red envelopes. As a fond farewell, each party will select an envelope containing a proverb, a special message or a gift, such as a spa treatment or an overnight stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles. The special tasting menu is available Jan. 31 – Feb. 14 at $180 per person. WP24 Restaurant and Lounge Chinese New Year 2014 at Chi Lin: Chi Lin, a new modern Chinese restaurant in West Hollywood known for integrating authentic Chinese cuisine with high energy and sophistication, will be serving a special menu on Jan. 31. As a celebration of good luck, good wealth, and good health, Chef Tyson Wong Ophaso has crafted a Chinese New Year menu with special meaning. The red of the red lobster signifies good luck and luxury, while the long noodles signify longevity. The menu will feature a House Special Soup, a Dragon Lobster with choice of Heirloom Grain, Long Life Truffle Noodle and the restaurant’ signature dish—Peking Duck, a traditional favorite in Chinese culture. In addition, Chi Lin features a series of dining spaces that fuses ancient Chinese mythology with 21st-century L.A. culture. http://www.innovativedining.com/restaurants/chi-lin
A Special Menu for 2014 Chinese New Year in San Francisco’s M.Y. China Restaurant: Located in the Westfield Shopping Centre Restaurant Collection, M.Y. China, owned by celebrity chef Martin Yan, celebrates Chinese New Year Jan. 25 – Feb. 21, 2014 with a Prix Fixe menu, featuring traditional symbolic Chinese New Year dishes. Items will include choices such as noodles, chicken, shrimp, vegetarian options and fish, and special chocolate-dipped fortune cookies. Guests can take home a souvenir menu, featuring a recollection of Yan’s favorite Chinese New Year memory. Executive Chef Tony Wu and Martin Yan will make a guest appearance, autographing menus during three of the nights the menu will be running in San Francisco and four of the nights at Rohnert Park. The two holiday menu options, costing $68 and $88, each serve two people. The restaurant will also set up a Facebook contest. Eight contestants can enter to win a private cooking class with Yan, as well as an apron and a copy of Yan’s cookbook. www.mychinasf.com
Iron Horse Vineyards Releases a Special Chinese Cuvée to Celebrate “Year of the Horse”: Building a legacy of prestige sparkling wines, Iron Horse Vineyards creates another vintage of Chinese Cuvée. This December 2013, the family owned winery in Sonoma County will release the 2005 Chinese “Year of the Horse” Cuvée. The first vintage for the “Year of the Dragon” was served at the State Department luncheon in honor of China’s then-Vice President Xi Jinping, hosted by Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden February 2012. The “Year of the Snake” Cuvée was served at the Official Visit of President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping in June 2013. Iron Horse will offer VIP tours by appointment to taste the new vintage and to see 28 years of White House menus featuring their wines. Costing $20 per person (refunded with the purchase of a bottle of Iron Horse), tours will be available Monday – Friday at 10 a.m. http://www.ironhorsevineyards.com
South Coast Plaza Offers Many Lunar New Year Festivities & Specials: Jan. 23, South Coast Plaza honors Lunar New Year with a community welcome, ribbon cutting and opening ceremonies by Ambassador Liu Jian, Consul-General of China in Los Angeles and notable officials from 6 to 8 p.m. Celebrants will enjoy gourmet cuisine, beverages and receive lucky red envelopes. South Coast Plaza will stage an elaborate horse exhibit, exquisite floral displays, and red paper lanterns Jan. 23 – Feb. 9 in Jewel Court. Jan. 23-25, the Zhejiang Cultural Festival in Jewel Court will feature Chinese artisans and performers from the Zhejiang Province of China. Enjoy dance, music, acrobatics, opera, magic and a photo exhibit. Chinese craftsman from Zhejiang will demonstrate clay sculpture, fan painting, bamboo weaving, wood cuts, and what is described as “Festive Lights.” South Coast Plaza will also offer a gift with purchase for the Lunar New Year of an exquisite set of Baccarat Year of the Horse zodiac tumblers with a same-day purchase of a minimum of $2500 at any combination of South Coast Plaza boutiques and restaurants (excluding department stores). Vouchers will be offered at all four concierge locations with a chance to win luxury gifts from South Coast Plaza boutiques, including a South Coast Plaza shopping spree. From Jan. 23-Feb.10, China UnionPay card will award customers who purchase $1,000 or more in South Coast Plaza gift certificates with a bonus $50 South Coast Plaza gift certificate. For details and redemption guidelines, visit any of the four South Coast Plaza concierge locations.
Macy’s South Coast Plaza Celebrates Year of the Horse: Join Macy’s South Coast Plaza Jan. 25th from 2-4 p.m. as they celebrate Lunar New Year, the longest running festivity based in centuries old traditions of myths and symbols. Sit with a Shiseido skincare expert and enjoy a signature Shiseido facial massage. Take home a full size retinol eye mask and a red envelope with cosmetic samples inside to signify good luck for the new year. Enjoy top fashions with informal modeling in formal dresses and petites, a traditional dragon dance performance at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. and spend $75 or more to receive a Lunar New Year tote bag.
2014 Chinese New Year’s Activities at Westfield San Francisco Centre: Beginning in January, Westfield San Francisco Centre, the city’s premier destination for world-class fashion, entertainment and dining, will be partnering with the Asian Art Museum, Bloomingdale’s and M.Y. China to celebrate the 2014 Chinese New Year. Located in the heart of San Francisco near Union Square and the city’s renowned cultural attractions, Westfield San Francisco Centre’s retailers will greet shoppers with red envelopes containing good luck wishes and 15% off coupons and gifts. Westfield San Francisco Centre and The Asian Art Museum will present a colorful and informative display about the animals of the Chinese zodiac used to mark the Chinese New Year. The museum will also bring storytellers to enliven the Centre with enchanting, family friendly myths and folktales. Bloomingdale’s will offer a variety of entertainment for shoppers, including dragon dancers performing traditional dances and themed decorations. www.westfield.com/sanfrancisco
Santa Monica Place Celebrates the “Year of the Horse”: Santa Monica Place, the lavish beachside shopping destination, welcomes visitors Jan. 31 – Feb. 14 for an exclusive shopping experience in celebration of the “Year of the Horse.” Embracing the festive spirit of the Chinese New Year, the mall will present special in-store events, offers and promotions. www.santamonicaplace.com
Westfield in Santa Anita Hosts its 2nd Annual Lunar New Year Celebration: On Feb. 15 Westfield Santa Anita celebrates the “Year of the Horse” with live performances, a special Wishing Tree and a 120-foot hanging dragon. The free event takes place 2pm – 6pm on the Promenade at Westfield Santa Anita. www.westfield.com/santaanita
Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. She recently appeared in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the 2013 National Black Theatre Festival opposite Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, Lorey Hayes, Marcus Naylor and Phynjuar.
Other articles on Chinese New Year:
Where to Celebrate the Lunar New Year -Year of the Horse in New York
Lia Chang’s Lens: Photos of Lion Dancers and Rabbits in Los Angeles Chinatown
Photos: Chinese New Year Festival at The Huntington in San Marino
Meet the authors of the Pocket Chinese Almanac, Joanna C. Lee and Ken Smith, Museworks, Ltd.
Other Articles by Lia Chang:
Celebrating the Year of the Horse with David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu at Signature Theatre; Previews begin February 4, 2014
Asian CineVision Auction Items Feature Producer Janet Yang, Kung Fu Playwright David Henry Hwang or a 4 Hour Photography Session with Lia Chang
Feb. 4 – Mar. 16: Phoebe Strole, Jon Rua, Join Cole Horibe and More for Signature’s World Premiere of David Henry Hwang’s Kung Fu
Jan. 9 – Feb. 9: Jarlath Conroy, Rebecca Brooksher, Eric Martin Brown, Ryan Garbayo, Rocco Sisto, Nick Westrate Set for Red Bull’s Off-Broadway Revival of Loot
Jan. 22-31: Photos: Tracey Conyer Lee, Lelund Durond Thompson, Matthew Murumba, and Carmen LoBue set for Camile Darby’s Lords Resistance Featured in The Fire This Time Festival at The Kraine Theater
Jan. 9 – Feb. 9: Thom Sesma and Michele Ragusa to Star in Greg Edwards and CRAVING FOR TRAVEL at Peter J. Sharp Theater
Photos: David Henry Hwang, Annie Baker and Rajiv Joseph honored at Sixth Annual Steinberg Playwright “Mimi” Awards
Signature’s Revival of The Piano Lesson Sweeps AUDELCO’s with 8 Wins including Best Revival, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Roslyn Ruff, Chuck Cooper and Brandon J. Dirden; Also Among 2013 “VIV” Winners – Wild with Happy’s Coleman Domingo and Sharon Washington; and Storyville’s Mercedes Ellington
Photos: André De Shields, Michael Shannon, Rajiv Joseph, Christine Sherrill, Doug Peck, Alexis J. Rogers, Karen Ziemba and More Celebrate 2013 Jeff Equity Awards
Photos: Cheryl Lynn Bruce, André De Shields, Sandra Marquez, Dennis Zacek and More Celebrate Opening Night of Appropriate by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins at Victory Gardens
Photos: André De Shields, Mary Zimmerman, Akash Chopra, Richard M. Sherman, Kevin Carolan, Larry Yando, Nehal Joshi and More Celebrate The Jungle Book Opening Night at Huntington Theatre in Boston
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