What is Chinese Lunar New Year?

Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is the most important Chinese holiday. It is defined as the first day of the first month in the traditional Chinese calendar. Unlike the New Year observed by those that use the Gregorian Calendar, which is a solar calendar, the Chinese New Year is based on a traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar whose dates indicate both the phase of the moon as well as the time of the solar year. A lunar month is around two days shorter than a solar month so to line up with the solar calendar, an extra month is inserted every few years. This is why the Chinese New Year falls on a different date every year.

For the year 2020, the main zodiac element is metal, and the animal sign is Rat, therefore 2020 will be the Year of the Metal Rat. The Chinese year will last from January 25, 2020, to February 11, 2021.

Before the celebration, people traditionally clean their houses thoroughly, a gesture of “sweeping away” the past and removing items from the home that are not needed anymore to invite good energy into the home. After this, it is time for a new year, new you! Getting a hair cut, going shopping for new things to begin the new year refreshed and ready for whatever may come. Red envelopes with crisp bank notes are given out by married couples as a blessing for prosperity and good luck in the coming new year. After firecrackers, feasting, and offerings to your ancestors, it is time to stay up late and welcome the new year at midnight and say goodbye to the old one.

Where to celebrate in Los Angeles:

This annual free event hosted by L.A.’s Chinese community is a two-day festival set up at the historic Monterey Park, 7 miles from downtown Los Angeles. This street fair takes over five blocks of Downtown Monterey Park with folk art, delectable bites and a carnival zone. The event begins Saturday morning with a firecracker display, dragon and lion dances. Past fests have brought in over 100,000 people, parking is limited so public transportation or rideshare is recommended.

Where to celebrate in San Diego:

In downtown San Diego in the Asian Thematic Historic District, the Consolidated Chinese Benevolent Association of San Diego is hosting its 38th annual Chinese New Year Celebration. The street fair will be held on February 8 and 9, 2020 on Third Avenue and J Street in Downtown San Diego near the convention center. There will be vendors, music, dancing, crafts for children and live performances with no admission required. With over 50 vendors, educational cultural displays and crafts for children, this makes it an event for the entire family. Parking is limited, however, this event is incredibly close to the San Diego Convention Center trolley stop which makes this a convenient day trip.

Select Language