For many Asian cultures, the Lunar New Year is a time of auspicious celebration. It’s during this time when many welcome the arrival of spring by organizing family gatherings, parades and fireworks. And for those who follow the Chinese zodiac, Sunday signaled the end of the Year of the Tiger to usher in the Year of the Rabbit.
This weekend in Balboa Park, the House of China in San Diego celebrated the Lunar New Year (or the Spring Festival) with joyous pomp and circumstance — decked out in gold and red symbolizing prosperity and good fortune.
The North San Diego String Ensemble performed various celebratory songs that represented the coming of the new year — songs of renewal, of spring and of hope.
The event, which ran Saturday and Sunday, was filled with smiling attendees who will continue to celebrate for the next 15 days until the Lantern Festival, which marks the end of the Lunar New Year, on Feb. 5.
This is the second year since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that attendees have gathered in the same space to celebrate. For many, it was a sigh of relief to be able to come together and reconnect with loved ones.
San Diego City Councilmember Kent Lee and his family attended the event. Lee voiced how wonderful it was to participate and be surrounded by community members from all over the county.
"We wish everyone good health and prosperity and fortune, especially after the pandemic," Lee said.
Chris Chan, director of city council communications, was also thrilled to see the high turnout.
"It's wonderful to see the community come out," he said. "The Asian community was worried about COVID ... but I'm relieved to see that we were able to celebrate all together."
Younger attendees beamed with enthusiasm and showed their love for the holiday by dressing in red. Natalie, a San Diego State University student, said "it's fun" and exciting to come back to some semblance of normal in-person events.
Some attendees were still cautious around crowds, but that didn't deter them from marching through just to catch a whiff of braised pork or a sweet taste of boba tea.
One of the highlights from the event was in the House of China, where volunteers wrote names of arriving visitors in Chinese using traditional calligraphy brushes.
Inside, past a menagerie of porcelain dolls and antiques, were two volunteers asking visitors for their name before writing it in elegant ink script.
As the event came to a close, firecrackers crackled and children laughed. And as visitors began to leave, toddlers gathered around the stage to celebrate the new year and welcome the Year of the Rabbit with a single bunny hop. The final message from event organizers was to stay healthy, to stay happy, and to have a prosperous new year.