How We Celebrate: Chinese New Year

When I was a little girl, it was a special treat each year to watch on television the Chinese New Year’s parade in San Francisco. For the past few years, I have been itching to go see it in person, but have always come up with a lame excuse for why not to. This year, however, we had a guest visiting from out of town, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity.

I am so glad we went!

Should you ever visit in the future, here are five tips for how to maximize the adventure.

chinese-lion-dancers

1. Park yourself at the end of the parade. It was a delight to watch the parade in general (and my favorite performers–the lion dancers–in particular) advancing toward us, framed by Columbus Tower and the Transamerica Pyramid. I am short, so usually have a hard time watching parades. But here, it was not too crowded. And, because Kearny is on an incline, even when crowds formed, I still had a perfect vantage point.

glowing-lion-dancers

2. Walk through the neighborhood. Many of the streets in Chinatown were blocked off to traffic, allowing pedestrians free reign for revelry. I loved the festive atmosphere – all ages walking, mingling…

chinatown-new-years

And, yes, setting off firecrackers.

chinatown-firecracker

Just be sure to watch your step!

chinatown-fireworks

3. If you get hungry, dinner at Z & Y is always a treat. Depending on when you arrive, you may be in for a long wait. But–especially if you are not shy when it comes to spicy food–it is definitely worth it!

z-and-y

And, should you require some egg tarts, Golden Gate Bakery was open late…

Golden-Gate-Bakery

4. Explore the back alleyways. While waiting for dinner at Z & Y, I spotted an enchanting float from the parade gliding by as it returned home for the night. I followed after it and was rewarded with an up-close glimpse…

chinese-new-year-float

5. For $2 you can buy a lighter and a bundle of sparklers from one of the many stands lining the streets. I am usually not particularly brave when it comes to fire, but I could not resist the magic of holding one of these while strolling through the night.

chinese-sparkler

Goodbye Chinatown, I hope to see you again soon. Happy New Year!

Categories: Ritual, Travel

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