In addition to the millions of red Valentine's hearts and roses Angelenos will see on February 14, red is also the color of the Chinese New Year. Chinese Americans from San Francisco to Diamond Bar and all across the nation will be handing out red envelopes to their children and loved ones; women will don red cheongsams; red and yellow colored charms will adorn the front doors of many Chinese homes to bring in Year 4707 on the Chinese calendar, the Year of the Metal Tiger.
We've come a long way since the first coolies arrived from southern China to work the gold mines and on the railroads. Today's Chinese immigrants come from all over China as well as the countries that make up the Chinese diaspora. While many still leave their homeland to seek their fortune in America, many more arrive with fortunes to invest.
Traditional Chinese New Year celebrations typically span a 16 day period beginning with a reunion dinner where immediate family members dine together on New Year's Eve not unlike what American families do on Thanksgiving Day. Chinese homes will be thoroughly cleaned prior to New Year's Eve and seasonal pastries, oranges and goodies are laid out. The first and second days of the new year are traditionally a time for family gatherings where younger generations will visit with parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles to pay their respects. The third day is traditionally a rest day. The fifteenth and last day of the celebrations usually culminates in a crescendo of fireworks.
Chinese New Year festivities in the Southland include the Chinese New Year Floral Street Fair and Lantern Festival in Monterey Park on Feb 20 www.ci.monterey-park.ca.us, the Golden Dragon Parade and Festival which runs on the 20th and 21st in Chinatown www.lagoldendragonparade.com and the Shen Yun Dance Spectacular at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion from Feb 5-14. http://laspectacular.com
Since the new year is a time of high spirits and great optimism, many Southland Chinese will also make their way to Las Vegas for a date with lady luck. Hence the traditional greeting Kung Hay Fatt Choy (Cantonese version) or Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin version) which translate to "Congratulations and prosperity to you".