Every year millions of people across the world get together to celebrate Lunar New Year, a public holiday observed across China, North and South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, and Vietnam.
The holiday marks the arrival of spring and the beginning of a new year based on the lunisolar calendar, tracing its roots back to ancient China when farmers followed the moon as a guide to sow and harvest their crops.
Across cities in America, the Asian American community welcomes the new year with month-long cultural celebrations including parades, community feasts, dance performances, and more.
Chicago’s Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade kicked off on Sunday (January 29) for the first time since the pandemic, welcoming the start of the Year of the Rabbit.
Thousands of people crowded the streets of South Wentworth Avenue to cheer the procession of marching bands, performers carrying dragon and lion floats, schoolchildren dressed in traditional attires, people on buses donning rabbit ears, waving colorful flags and holding up “happy new year” banners, and some passing out red envelopes to the onlookers – a traditional gift across many Asian cultures that symbolizes good luck and prosperity – filled with candies and fortune cookies.
“We enjoy just being with everybody here and really appreciating what this means, especially for the Asian American community,” says Richard Frachey, a Board of Directors member of the Chinese American Musuem of Chicago, who joined the parade dressed as a Chinese emperor. “It’s an honor and a privilege to be a part of it.”
A day before the parade, small groups of people also gathered at Chicago’s Chinatown Square Plaza to honor the victims of the recent mass shootings in California’s Monterey Park and Half Moon Bay.