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Lunar New Year 2020

LNY is a public holiday in China, which lasts for several days. It is also a public holiday in several countries such as Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, North Korea, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam. The Chinese Zodiac, known as Sheng Xiao, is based on a twelve-year cycle, each year in that cycle related to an animal sign. These signs are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. The start date is calculated according to Chinese lunar calendar.

History. Most of the top traditions of Chinese New Year observed during the 15-day holiday serve one purpose: to usher in a year of good fortune and prosperity. The ancient Chinese lunar calendar, on which Chinese New Year is based, functioned as a religious, dynastic and social guide. Oracle bones inscribed with astronomical records indicate that the calendar existed as early as 14th century B.C., when the Shang Dynasty was ruling. THIS YEAR: Chinese New Year is on Saturday, January 25, 2020.

Traditionally, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are reserved for family celebrations, including religious ceremonies honoring ancestors. Also on New Year’s Day, family members receive red envelopes (lai see) containing small amounts of money. Dances and fireworks are prevalent throughout the holidays, culminating in the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated on the last day of the New Year’s celebrations. On this night, colorful lanterns light up the houses, and traditional foods such as yuanxiao (sticky rice balls that symbolize family unity), fagao (prosperity cake), and yusheng (raw fish and vegetable salad) are served.

We make our own lanterns at work. It was a fun craft, and we also transplanted “lucky” jade plants to put on our desks.

The Lantern Festival. The Lantern Festival, also called Yuan Xiao Festival. It honors deceased ancestors on the 15th day of the first month (Yuan) of the lunar calendar. The Lantern Festival aims to promote reconciliation, peace, and forgiveness. The holiday marks the first full moon of the new lunar year and the end of the Chinese New Year. During the festival, houses are festooned with colorful lanterns, often with riddles written on them; if the riddle is answered correctly, the solver earns a small gift. Festival celebrations also include lion and dragon dances, parades, and fireworks. The Lantern Festival may originate as far back as the Han dynasty (206 BCE to 220 CE), when Buddhist monks would light lanterns on the 15th day of the lunar year in honor of the Buddha. The rite was later adopted by the general population and spread throughout China and other parts of Asia. A legend concerning the festival’s origin tells the tale of the Jade Emperor (You Di), who became angered at a town for killing his goose. He planned to destroy the town with fire, but he was thwarted by a fairy who advised the people to light lanterns across the town on the appointed day of destruction. The emperor, fooled by all the light, assumed the town was already engulfed in flames. The town was spared, and in gratitude the people continued to commemorate the event annually by carrying colorful lanterns throughout the town.

Parade Route in SF

The 2020 Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco is on Saturday, February 8. It starts at 5:00 pm at the corner of 2nd and Market Streets in San Francisco, and is one of the largest in the world. There will be lots of fun events for the lunar new year in both February and March. There are hundreds of lively parade entries! The parade also includes several floats, the largest and most popular of which is the 28-foot-long Golden Dragon. It takes a team of more than 100 people to operate and move it through the streets of San Francisco. It then weaves its way through Chinatown and ends at Jackson and Kearny Streets. The parade usually ends around 8pm. Here is a map of the full route. You can watch this wonderful parade in person or on the local station: KTVU Channel 2.

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