As home to the third largest Chinatown in the country, it should come as no surprise to learn that the Chinese New Year is a major celebration in Boston. From festivals and parades to opportunities to explore Chinese food and culture, the Chinese New Year offers plenty of opportunity to have fun while learning more about China and its people.
Unlike the traditional New Year in the United States, which always falls on January first, the Chinese New Year begins on the first day of the first month of the Lunar Near Year. In 2015, this day happens to fall on February 19th. Since this marks the start of warmer weather in China, the festival is commonly referred to as the Spring Festival in China. Since things are still pretty chilly in Boston at this time of the year, however, the event is not typically associated with springtime. In fact, there have been times when frigid temperatures and high winds put a damper on all of the fun.
The main focal point of the Chinese New Year Celebration is the parade, which features several processions going through several streets at one time. In Boston, the Chinese New Year Parade is easily the biggest celebration to take place in Chinatown each year. The parade always features firecrackers, drums, cymbals, gongs, elaborate costumes and the legendary Lion Dancers. Performing the Lion Dance ritual during the parade is believed to drive away evil spirits while also helping to bring good luck for the New Year. These Lion Dancers are typically comprised of local kung fu groups, which have been sponsored by the neighborhoods civic and organizations and clubs.
Due to the massive size of the Chinese New Year parade, Chinatown becomes a pedestrian-only region throughout the event. The numerous processions passing through the streets are usually led by groups carrying flags and banners, followed by the Lion Dancers. These groups take different paths as they move from business to business, passing through the many different streets, lanes and alleys throughout the neighborhood. The neighborhood’s businesses also hang red paper lanterns up and down the streets, with the lanterns being a symbol of good luck and happiness. The business owners and residents also sweep the streets clean before the parade, a tradition that symbolizes clearing away the bad luck to make room for good luck. Currently, the parade is scheduled to take place on Sunday, March 1st, in 2015. As usual, it will take place on Beach Street and other nearby streets in Chinatown.
Food is also a major part of the Chinese New Year celebration. With so many Chinese restaurants to choose from within Chinatown, it can be difficult to pick just one. Some local favorites include Bubor Cha Cha, Taiwan Café and East Ocean City. Bubor Cha Cha serves primarily Malaysian dishes, while Taiwan Café focuses on Taiwanese specialties. East Ocean City specializes in sea food prepared in a variety of regional styles, including Cantonese and Szechuan.