I love New Year’s. But, January 1st isn’t the only time to ring in the New Year. Many cultures celebrate different New Years throughout the world. Saturday, January 28, marked the start of the Lunar New Year (also known as the spring festival). This year it’s the Year of the Rooster!

One of the best things about living in Northern Virginia is that it is a multi-cultural area. So, it was easy for my family and I to take part in the Lunar New Year celebrations. Many people probably think of this as the Chinese New Year. But, from late January to mid-February, Korea, Vietnam and many other countries also celebrate with parties and festivities.

Celebrating the Lunar New Year

My family and I decided to go to the Tết festival, the Vietnamese celebration, this weekend at the nearby Dulles Expo Center. It was a huge, fun event with bright colors, budding on trees, festive music and an endless amount of games. Symbols of Spring permeated from every corner of the high-ceiling event center. In the dead of a winter that feels emotionally colder and gloomier than most, it was good to know it’s Spring somewhere.

And did I mention the food? Tables of pho filled the air with the rich aroma of anise. Trays of puffy rolls and vendors bubbling with colorful fruit drinks could be found at any turn. (It really made me wish I wasn’t a gluten free vegetarian! But, my family got to eat some yummy things, like fried wanton wrapped bananas with coconut and a doughy ball covered in sesame seeds. So jealous.)

It’s Not Too Late to Celebrate!

The lunar New Year lasts 15 days! There’s still time! So, if you want to enjoy the festivities, you may be able to find some in your area.

In the Washington, DC area, here are a few.

  • Kennedy Center Family Day: Lunar New Year Celebration Febrary 4, 2017, 10:30 a.m.- 4 p.m.
  • MGM National Harbor Lunar New Year Celebration February 2, 2017, 8 p.m. MGM National Harbor
  • Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 1050 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20560 Chinese New Year Celebration – Feb. 511 a.m. – 5 p.m. |  Free admission

Check Out a Lunar New Year Stories

Not able to make it to a celebration? There are other ways to experience the Lunar New Year. If you like to read, maybe pick up a book or a story about it! Here are some suggestions!

Books for Children

Bringing In the New Year – by Grace Lin

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Ten Mice for Tet! by Pegi Deitz Shea

Book for Foodies

The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen by Grace Young

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Book for People Interested in the Meanings Behind the Lunar New Year

The Race for the Chinese Zodiac, by Gabrielle Wang

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A Personal New Year Story

Although not a book, check out this story on NPR called My Menu For Lunar New Year: Guilt, Confusion, With A Side Of Angst and step into one woman’s history and experience with the New Year.

Happy New Year!