Year of the Water Rabbit
The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes by Theodora Lau predicts that much-needed serenity is in store for us in 2023. In the year ahead, people will acknowledge that persuasion is better than force. Considering the ferocity of last year (year of the Tiger), that sounds pretty good to me!
The decision was made the evening before. I’d visit Chinatown in New York City on Sunday, January 22, to witness the extraordinary and visually stimulating Chinese New Year celebration and to offer support to this much-loved historic neighborhood that’s been an iconic destination in the Big Apple since the mid-19th century.
Considering the sudden, unexpected obliteration and decimation the pandemic brought upon restaurants and shops in this dynamic part of town, I’m happy to report that the streets were densely packed with people doing what people love to do: eating, talking, shopping, and having fun. Naturally, many were of Chinese descent, but folks from every ethnicity and generation conceivable were also in attendance, which made me smile — knowing that we can all get along if we try.
The celebration was amazing to witness, including the embracing mood of the community, the traditional lucky red color worn by many, the loud and brilliantly colored fireworks, and the much-anticipated appearance of several feisty performing dragons determined to usher in luck, prosperity, strength, wisdom, and health for all. Every shake and dip of their long and lanky bodies surely scared away any potential evil spirits left behind from 2022.
Of course, the opportunities to eat were endless. I was lucky enough to have advice from Grace Young, award-winning cookbook author, culinary historian, and Chinatown activist, who helped me narrow down the possibilities by suggesting several tried and true restaurants. Aside from being a wok therapist, Grace has authored many wonderful wok recipes for Fine Cooking Magazine through the years. So let me say here and now what an honor and a privilege it’s been to work with her and to know her personally. She’s a true humanitarian, inspiration, and a really charming person, too.
As the day came to a close, and it was time to head home, I found myself wishing that we could celebrate new beginnings like this always. I thought I’d share some of the incredible festivities of the day with you.
How did you celebrate Chinese New Year? I’d love to hear about it!
Giving credit where credit is due:
Here are two video clips from my New Year’s Day in Chinatown: