By Susan Motander
It is the year of the rat in the Chinese zodiac and it starts on Saturday, Jan. 25. Legend has it that the Jade Emperor said the order of the zodiac would be determined by which of the animals arrived at his party first or who won a race he arranged (the myths vary here). The rat is said to have tricked the ox into giving him a ride. At the last moment, the rat jumped off and in front of the ox and so won, becoming the first symbol of the zodiac.
Gung hay fat choy means “wishing you great happiness and prosperity” in Cantonese (in the spirit of disclosure, I never learned any Mandarin as most of the people I knew growing up spoke Cantonese). If you want to be more specific, xin nian kuai le is Happy New Year.
And there are lots of ways to celebrate locally. In Monrovia the Public Library is having a Chinese New Year Party this Saturday from 2 to 4 p.m. with a dragon dance at 2. Designed to teach children more about the Chinese culture, there will be arts and crafts, and stories.
Plymouth Elementary School’s PTA is hosting a Lunar New Year Family Night for their students and their families on Friday, Jan. 31. This is especially fitting as Plymouth offers emersion in Mandarin for its students. There will be student performances, activities and more for the families of Plymouth students.
Nearby in San Marino, the Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens never misses a chance to show off its beautiful Chinese garden. On Feb. 1 and 2 there will be lion dancers, mask-changing performances, martial arts demonstrations and Chinese music in that ideal setting of the Chinese garden. This is included in the regular price of admission.
The Pacific Asia Museum will be celebrating on Saturday, Feb. 25 starting at 11 a.m. There will be free admission to all the galleries along with live performances and art workshops. There will even be food trucks on hand. The museum is located at 46 N. Los Robles in Pasadena.
There is always one of the oldest traditions for Chinese New Year in Downtown L.A.’s Chinatown: The Golden Dragon Parade and festival. This, the 121st annual Chinese New Year celebration, will be held on Feb. 1 and 2 (the L.A. and San Francisco Chinatown alternate celebrating on the closest weekend). Most of the festivities will take place in the Central Plaza in Chinatown. There will be multi-stage presentations with everything from kung fu demonstrations to traditional music. There will also be multiple food trucks and even a beer garden. For the children, there will be face-painting, storytelling and paper folding.
The exciting Golden Dragon Parade will be on Feb. 1 starting at 1 p.m. with a scheduled conclusion at 3 p.m. It will start at Ord and Hill streets concluding at Broadway and Cesar Chavez. This is always fun for the whole family.