Billions of people will celebrate Chinese New Year Thursday, including the 1.5 million of Asian descent living in Southern California.
Families have spent recent days cleaning their homes to prepare for the Year of the Ram. Most will hold held their annual reunion banquet, gathering generations together for a communal meal.
“The Lunar New Year is the biggest holiday in the Chinese culture,” said Sonya Lee, professor of Chinese culture at USC. “Chinese families always get together for big family reunions.”
The San Gabriel Valley started celebrating Feb. 7 when Monterey Park held its Lunar New Year Festival. Seven city blocks were devoted to food, entertainment and family activities. Thousands cheered on the traditional lion and dragon dancers.
Chinatown Los Angeles welcomed the new year Wednesday night with a late-night ceremony at Thien Hau Temple on Yale Street. Families offered gifts and burned incense to seek good fortune in the new year. They were joined by monks, as well as leaders of Chinese-family associations.
The New Year’s celebrations also began before dawn this morning with a pilgrimage up the Puente Hills to the Fo Guang Shan Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights. Pilgrims walk three steps, then bow in prayer to show their devotion and humility at one of the largest temples in the Western Hemisphere.
The day for reverence and reflection includes the Thousand Buddha Dharma, a solemn ceremony in which Buddhists pray for good fortune in the Year of the Ram.
Read more in Rich Irwin’s story RAM.