The ‘Year of the Rabbit’ begins Jan. 22 with the advent of the Lunar New Year

Events celebrating ‘Chinese New Year’ are planned in Malibu, Santa Monica, and downtown LA

First off, let’s just say that “Chinese New Year,” which is what we commonly call it in the U.S., is not just celebrated by the Chinese – it’s also a big deal in Vietnam, North and South Korea,Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, Indonesia, and Thailand (Mongols and Tibetans celebrate New Year in February or early March). The lunar calendar is based on the moon’s phases; beginning this year with the new moon on Jan. 22. The year 2023 is the “Year of the Rabbit” — one of 12 zodiac animals that rotate annually. 

Rabbit years are associated with luck, longevity, peace and prosperity; and those born in a year of the rabbit (which occurs once every 12 years) are said to be vigilant, witty and ingenious; with soft and tender personality traits, a modest attitude, and pleasant relationships with the people around them. “Rabbit people” are not easily irritated and try to avoid quarrels.

Lunar New Year, which has been celebrated for over 3,000 years, is one of the most important holidays of the year in eastern Asia, and is usually celebrated for multiple days — unlike the western New Year’s Day, which is only celebrated on Jan. 1. In China, it’s a week-long vacation officially called Spring Festival where millions of people travel home.

The Lunar New Year is celebrated by honoring deities and ancestors, as well as having parades, dances, games, fireworks, and a lantern festival at the end. The holiday has its own special food traditions and feasts, including fish as a last course, rice ball soup, New Year’s rice cakes and dumplings. 

The celebration of Lunar New Year seems to become more widespread in the U.S. as time goes on — assimilating into the culture just like other holidays brought from other parts of the world, like St. Patrick’s Day from Ireland and Cinco de Mayo from Mexico. Lunar New Year greeting cards are even being sold in Malibu. 

Here’s what’s happening in our area:

  • Kristy’s Village Café in the Trancas Country Market (corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Trancas Canyon Rd. in Malibu) is having a special Chinese New Year Celebration night on Sunday, Jan. 22. There will be two seatings — at 5:15 p.m. and 7 p.m. Call (310) 457-1018 to book and find out more. Owner Kristy Apana, a native of Hong Kong, knows how to offer an authentic entertainment experience with dragon dancers and a special menu.
  • Pepperdine University: On Monday, Jan. 23, from 12 to 1 p.m., there will be a free Lunar New Year celebration at Palm Plaza, Drescher Graduate Campus (24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu) for all Pepperdine Graziadio students. The first 50 students will receive a special new year’s gift bag, and food will be provided. The event is co-sponsored by Student Engagement and Success and Global Programs.
  • Santa Monica Place: On Saturday, Jan. 28, 2 to 5 p.m. in the Center Plaza, will be a free family-friendly event with cultural performances and art under traditional red and gold lanterns. The celebration, hosted by comedian Paul Kim, includes lion dancers, Chinese dough artist, balloon artist, live DJ, special retailer offers, and more at 395 Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica. Visit from Jan. 21 to Feb. 4 to tie a personal Lunar New Year wish on the Cherry Blossom Wishing Trees and pick up a Lunar New Year kids’ craft kit (while supplies last).
  • Downtown LA: 124th Annual Golden Dragon Lunar New Year Parade, will be held Saturday, Jan. 28, from 1 to 4 p.m. Its the oldest Chinese New Year parade in LA, presented by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce LA. The parade begins in Chinatown at North Hill Street and Ord Street, Los Angeles. Ticket sales at eventbrite.com/e/124th-golden-dragon-lunar-new-year-parade-tickets-507113278467

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