Just getting over the New Year celebrations? Think again! Lunar New Year is around the corner and it’s a great way to expose the kids to new cultures.  With dragon dances, colorful costumes and decorations, and delicious food, there’s no shortage of ways to celebrate this lively occasion. Whether you choose to stay at home or attend one of the local events, here’s the scoop for ringing in the Year of the Monkey, San Diego style.

Tet Festival

Photo: Vietnamese American Youth Alliance of San Diego Facebook page

What is the Year of the Monkey?
The Chinese zodiac relates each year to an animal, for a cycle of 12 years. Chinese New Year is February 8, 2016, which marks the beginning of Year of the Monkey. People born in the Year of the Monkey tend to be witty, intelligent and have a magnetic personality.

SD Chinese New YearPhoto: San Diego Chinese New Year Food and Cultural Fair

Celebrate in San Diego

Lunar New Year Festival
Kick-off the festivities by starting at the Lunar New Year Festival happening from Jan. 29 – 31. This pan-Asian festival costs $5 for adults and $4 for kids. There is free admission for anyone dressed in a complete military uniform. This festival at Qualcomm Stadium includes 16 carnival rides, games, contests, live entertainment and food from all over Asia is available for guests to enjoy.

Qualcomm Stadium
9449 Friars Rd.
San Diego, Ca 92108
Online: lunarnewyearfestival.org

San Diego Tet Festival
Celebrate Tet Festival – the Vietnamese New Year celebration — from Feb. 12 – 14 at the Mira Mesa Community Park. The events offers fun for whole the family including carnival rides, games, authentic Vietnamese food, lion dancing and firecrackers. The entertainment programs include Miss Vietnam of San Diego and a Cultural Village to immerse yourself in Vietnamese culture.

8575 New Salem St.
San Diego, Ca 92126
Online: sdtet.com

Chinese New Year Food and Cultural Fair
Come celebrate the Chinese New Year Food and Cultural Fair on Feb. 13 and 14 to ring in the Year of the Monkey! The downtown San Diego event includes lucky lion dancers, martial arts performances, food, Asian Story Theater, arts and crafts, opportunity drawings, and more!

Third Ave. and J St. Downtown
San Diego, Ca 92101
Online: sdcny.weebly.com

San Diego Chinese Historical Museum
While you’re downtown at the Chinese New Year Food and Cultural Fair, stop in at the Chinese Historical Museum. This museum provides a nice overview of Chinese art and culture in San Diego. Kids can see artifacts such as a rickshaw and Chinese pottery. Exhibits are constantly changing as well. The highlight is the beautiful garden and koi pond at the back.

404 Third Ave.
San Diego, Ca 92101
Online: sdchm.org

Barnard Community Chinese New Year Celebration
This Mandarin Chinese Magnet elementary school hosts their annual community festival on Feb. 6 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. The event features lion dances, face painting, performances by Barnard students, a student art auction and more. For a small fee, kids can play small carnival games as well.

2445 Fogg St.
San Diego, Ca 92109
Online: sandiegounified.org/schools/barnard

Ranch 99 CNY

Photo: Creative Commons

Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year at Home
There are many ways your family can celebrate the Chinese New Year. You can start by decorating your home. Add a splash of good-luck red and gold to your child’s room with red lanterns, hanging firecrackers and other festive decorations. Party City stores around San Diego and elsewhere have Chinese New Year decorations. For decorations and even costumes that are the real deal, try an Asian import or grocery store, such as Ranch 99. Don’t forget to search the library for books about Chinese New Year, that you can read together at home. The Internet also has free printables that kids can color while learning more about this important holiday.

Another easy decoration involves an anti-oxidant rich, kid-friendly fruit. Citrus trees of all sizes appear in the doorways of homes and offices during Lunar New Year. If a real tree is out of the question, pile oranges or tangerines high in a bowl, as they are thought to bring good fortune and health in the new year. Better yet, make it a fun project for the kids. Have them eat one a day for 15 days, the duration of Chinese New Year celebrations.

A major part of Lunar New Year celebrations is cleaning the house from top to bottom in order to sweep away bad luck from the prior year and make room for good tidings. Explain this to the kids–just maybe, they’ll clean their rooms!

Does your family have any lunar new year traditions? How will you be celebrating the Year of the Monkey? 

–- Marissa Mullen