Happy New Year (Chinese New Year)
By Jennifer Bechem
published Feb 2nd, 2006
Think that the New Year is over and you've lost
your chance to make a good first impression on the beginning
of the next untouched year? Well if you're in New York January
29th through February 13th, then you're in luck! For generations
Asian communities have come together to celebrate the Lunar
New Year. You can regain a lost holiday, or relive the enjoyable
holiday action all over again with some extra spark.
The legend and tradition began with villagers using loud noises, fire and red objects to drive away a man-eating dragon named Nian. Firecrackers on New Year's Eve are enjoyed but also used to send away the old year and welcome in the new. (In 1997 Mayor Giuliani outlawed firecrackers, so decorative firecrackers which still make loud noises are used.) Lanterns still decorate much of Chinatown that to keep the dragon in fear of returning. Many still wear red for the New Year; red wards off evil and brings good fortune.
The first day of the year, is dedicated to welcome the gods of the heavens and earth. Chinese tradition says that if you cry on New Year's Day, you will cry throughout the entire year. Therefore, if you don't want to be around unruly children, make sure to visit the sites later on in the celebration.
Most tourists know that a visit to Chinatown will enjoy the great prices on everything from Gucci sunglasses to Prada bags and Saucony sneakers. However, some of Chinatown's best features are a little further south than Canal Street. Streets like Mott and Bayard contain unique shops and restaurants that carry the best food and gifts money can buy. I once bought my mother antique collectable teacups that she loved and has keep in her china cabinet for over five years for comparatively cheap prices. New York gets a bad reputation for kindness to strangers, but really, once you're in a shop, if it's a small "Mom and Pop," the owners go out of their way to help.
It is in these almost hidden streets that you'll find what anyone who is celebrating the Lunar New Year needs. You can find the best firecrackers, Fire Poppers, Lion heads, and articles of red clothing at a little shop called LIU'S International Enterprises Corp, located at the corner of Pell and Mott Streets. Not too far away at 65 Bayard St. is the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory that specializes in traditional Asian flavors like lychee, ginger, green tea, mango, and almond cookie. Its creamy, you feel healthy, and it tastes great, and from one ice cream buff to another, I highly recommend it. But, if you want a good sit down meal, there are a couple places that have Lunar New Year Specials. The top of my list is a place the Sweet-n-Tart at 20 Mott Street. The larger-than-life fireplace entrance will impress you, but then their classic Cantonese cuisine that's infused with Thai and Japanese flavors will make your taste buds cower.
For a walking tour of Chinatown with complete historical and trivial importance, meet at Grand and Chrystie Street at Roosevelt Park at 1pm. Its only $12 per person and is well worth the money. The tour is only the one day, February 4th, so you'll probably want to arrive early so you can hear everything the guides tell you.
Of course it wouldn't really be a celebration in New York if there wasn't a parade, and Chinatown doesn't disappoint. The 7th Annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade will be Sunday, February 5th at 1pm. The parade starts at Mott and Canal Streets on the north side at the beginning of Little Italy. The route is pretty short, so make sure to line up early for any kind of good seats. The parade route is almost a circle, ending at Delancey and Canal Streets.
This Lunar Year is the year of the Dog, people born in 1922, 1934,1946, 1958, 1970,1982,1994, or 2006 are all Dogs and tend to be known for loyal and honest yet stubborn. For more information on signs and other restaurants that have Lunar New Year promotions as well as more information on decorations and traditional Lunar New Year foods, you can log onto www.explorechinatown.com. So for a great time and a new Happy New Year head to Chinatown, New York City, NY.