Celebrate Chinese New Year
2016 - the Year of the Red Monkey
Out trots the Year of the Sheep (or Ram), and in swings the Year of the Red (or Fire) Monkey. February 8, 2016 marks the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year, a 23-day holiday that kicks off with a New Year’s Eve celebration with family and friends. There are plenty of ways to celebrate around San Diego County:
Chinese New Year Celebrations and Themed Activities
Take a Walking Tour of the Asian Pacific Historic District. Second Saturday of each month or upon request. 11 a.m. Explore San Diego’s Chinatown over eight blocks of the city’s Gaslamp Quarter and Marina. Chinese Historical Museum, 404 3rd Ave.; 619-338-9888.
Visit the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum to learn about Chinese culture and the history of San Diego’s early Chinese community through 3rd Saturday museum lectures and docent- or self-led museum tours. Take a tranquil stroll through the garden and koi pond for the perfect way to start a mindful Year of the Monkey. 404 3rd Ave.; 619-338-9888; www.sdchm.org; closed Mondays.
San Diego Chinese New Year Food & Cultural Fair offers lion dances, cultural performances, arts and crafts, food and more. Feb. 13 and 14, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Third Ave. & J St., downtown San Diego. www.sdcny.weebly.com.
Lunar New Year at SeaWorld. The marine park’s Festival Village features Asian-inspired culinary offerings and a community stage featuring cultural performances celebrating Asia. The Chinese Acrobats of Hebei perform 25-minute shows at Mission Bay Theater. Jan. 30-31; Feb. 6-8, 12-15, 20-21; visit website for park hours. Free with admission. Interstate 5, exit SeaWorld Dr. www.seaworldsandiego.com; 800-257-4268.
“Chu Chu the Dragon” at Balboa Park’s Puppet Theater. A red dragon steals a woman’s good luck pearl and troubles begin as her sons try to win it back. Feb. 3-7. www.balboaparkpuppets.com.
Just for Fun
Panda Express offers free resources and crafts for kids in 2nd–4th grade about Chinese New Year. Check out the Learn with Me Program at www.pandaexpress.com/ChineseNewYear.
Learn the art of knitting! Since ancient times, people have used sheep wool for cozy outerwear, blankets and more. For colorful hand-spun yarns crafted by women in China, and to obtain free knitting patterns, check out Infinite Twist at www.infinitetwist.com.
Chinese New Year Traditions
Firecrackers and fireworks are a traditional and important part of any New Year’s festival in China. The loud sounds of firecrackers are believed to scare away bad spirits, ensuring prosperity and good luck in the New Year. Similarly, the colorful lion and dragon dances are believed to frighten away the ferocious monster “Nian,” bringing peace and protection in the coming year.
Families and restaurants prepare a special menu to bring good fortune in the New Year. Fish signifies abundance, and chicken represents happiness and a long marriage. Sweets such as sesame balls and tangerines are served to bring prosperity. Making dumplings is a traditional New Year’s activity and these scrumptious treats symbolize wealth and good fortune.
Monkeys are among the most exciting of the Chinese zodiac animals, and people born in the Year of the Monkey are known for their upbeat and energetic nature. While monkeys are said to be loyal, confident, wise, charismatic and innovative, they also have a tendency to be self-centered, restless, and crafty.
Celebrate the Year of the Red Monkey with your family. Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy New Year!
Ronni Rowland, born in the Year of the Rooster, is a freelance writer and mother of two daughters, one born in the Year of the Rabbit and the other in the Year of the Ox.
Updated: January 2016