Kicking off with the new moon on Feb. 1 and culminating in the Lantern Festival on Feb. 15, this Lunar New Year ushers in the Year of the Water Tiger. Despite some festivities being canceled due to the coronavirus surge, spirited events brave Omicron, supplemented by an array of themed goods to welcome the new year.
Through Feb. 13, Disney California Adventure Park visitors can experience Asian cuisine and crafts, as well as Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession. On Feb. 5 and 6, the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens hosts a festival with martial arts presentations, lion dancers, live music, calligraphy and floral arts (advance online tickets required, adult admission is $29, free for members). South Coast Plaza’s lineup, through Feb. 20, includes themed offers, menus, music, an interactive botanical display and Liuli Crystal Art tiger sculptures as a gift with purchases over $2,500. Concierges at Americana at Brand and the Grove will hand out red envelope discounts and complimentary totes.
Hu Ying, a professor of East Asian studies at UC Irvine’s School of Humanities, explains that the backbone of the holiday is the ancient Chinese lunisolar calendar. “The folk tradition of 12 zodiac animals and the cosmic scheme of five elements (metal, wood, water, fire and earth) are mapped onto the traditional Chinese calendar, so the water tiger comes up every 60 years,” Ying explained. “Lunar New Year is celebrated in much of East Asia, including China, Vietnam and Korea, but not in Japan since the adaptation of the Gregorian calendar in 1873.”
So what are the qualities of the water tiger?
“Think of water in contrast to what it is not — immobile, stable or fiery,” Ying said. ”[The] water tiger is action-oriented. In a new-agey way, you could say it goes with the flow, with the force of least resistance. A hard, stuffed tiger is one of the most popular, traditional children’s toys in China. The tiger is outgoing, lively and happy. Not fierce.”
Celebrations include a banquet on Lunar New Year’s Eve (which this year falls on the evening of Jan. 31), firecrackers sparking into New Year’s Day, and visits to family and friends through Feb. 3, said Ying, when lucky red envelopes containing monetary gifts are customarily given to children.
Chunky Paper in Chinatown specializes in modern riffs on red envelopes and goods from Asian American and Pacific Islander makers. “In modern times, it’s quite common for red envelopes to be given by friends and co-workers, children to teachers, as casually as the greeting card,” said co-owner Jeff Lien, adding that gift cards or stickers often replace money.
Channel the water tiger’s strength with these 16 items.