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This year Chinese Lunar New Year starts on January 28, just one week away. This year is the Year of the Rooster. Details are popping up online for Chinese New Year celebrations in big cities such as San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles.  But for me and my middle daughter, all the buzz and festivity only reminded us our special trip to China two years ago. It was my daughter’s 1st real Chinese Lunar New Year experience.

My daughter’s 1st real Chinese Lunar New Year experience

The date for Chinese Lunar New Year changes each year. It always falls between January 21 and February 20. Oddly Chinese Lunar New Year is called “Spring Festival”. And frustratingly for me, it somehow always conflicts with our school schedule! As a result, I have never been able to take my daughters back to China to experience the real Chinese Lunar New Year.

My middle daughter was adopted from southern China when she was just 7 months old. While I tried to teach her about her Chinese heritage, secretly I had always wanted to show her what Chinese Lunar New Year celebration was really like in China. So in 2015 when the Lunar New Year happened to fall during our school’s February winter break, I booked a trip for just the two of us and flew to Guangzhou (capital of Guangdong Province in China) for a week. She was in 6th grade then, and according to her it was one of the most fun trips she had ever taken.

From the spring couplets in the airplane cabin, the red lanterns and firecrackers in restaurants, the giant tree of mandarin oranges in the hotel lobby, to the crowded Spring market filled with holiday flowers and goodies, and CCTV’s New Year Gala on TV,  you could feel the energy and the happiness that Chinese Lunar New Year brings to millions of people around you. Oh let’s not forget all the zodiac stuffed animals you could find! 2015 was the Year of the Ram, it was my daughter’s year!

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Chinese New Year decoration in the business class cabin on our Eva Air flight

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Guangzhou’s biggest flower street usually runs 3-days long prior to the first day of Chinese New Year.

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Huge “tree” of mandarin oranges can be seen everywhere.

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Hotel buffets are full of Chinese New Year flowers and decorations.

Rams, rams, everywhere!

In 2015, it was rams, rams, everywhere!

All the lucky money inside the red envelopes!

All the lucky money inside the red envelopes!

My bucket list — Celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year in Hong Kong

This has been on my bucket list for years. I want to be in Hong Kong during Chinese Lunar New Year. Hong Kong knows how to put on a show for this ancient festival. From an electric night parade of floats, a fabulous firework over the stunning Victoria Harbor, to heart-pounding action at the horse race track, the experience is only unique to Hong Kong!  Hong Kong Tourism Board has a whole page dedicated to Hong Kong’s 2017 Chinese New Year Celebration.

For now, I am limited by my daughters’ school schedule and I have to go to mainland China if I have only one week. But in a few more years, when my youngest daughter is in college, I will be off to China and Hong Kong for at least two weeks during Chinese New Year. Until then, I will have to figure out how to add to my collection of Cathay Pacific Zodiac stuffed animals.

Chinese Lunar New Year Celebration in San Francisco

We are fortunate to live half an hour outside of San Francisco, which has the biggest Chinatown outside of Asia and the oldest in the United States. While Chinatown is a tourist trap for most of the year, there is no better time to experience it than during Chinese New Year! Each year, San Franciscan’s Chinatown put on a 15-day long festival filled with events, a Lunar New Year concert and imperial dinner by San Francisco Symphony, a parade featuring floats and various performances including a spectacular 28-foot-long Golden Dragon float. This year the San Francisco Chinese Lunar New Year parade will be held on Saturday February 11. Will you be there?

Here was my kids first Chinese lunar new year and some of the fun decorations and activities we did with her

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