Chinese New Year Welcomes Year of the Rabbit

Thought New Year's celebrations were last month's news? Not when you're talking about the lunar new year, making this the year 4079 according to ancient Chinese calendars.

Today's Chinese New Year, and the beginning of the Year of the Rabbit. Farewell, Tiger!

Each of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac correspond to a year; the next time it'll be a rabbit year will be 2023.

So how do you get your party on in traditional Chinese fashion?

First off, decorate with the color red, which symbolizes good luck. Snack on some meat-filled potstickers, jiao zi, which are popular in Northern China, or egg rolls -- both are said to resemble bars of gold.

Or nibble on dried kumquats or oranges, which also bring prosperity. Meanwhile, noodles represent longevity, while a steamed whole fish represent the abundance of the coming year. 

There's a whole variety of lucky foods that are thought to bring you wealth, longevity, and prosperity.

If you want to start your festivities in proper fashion, go vegetarian tonight -- not only does it counteract other New Year's-related decadence, it's good karma.

Stop by any of the Asian markets around town, and you'll find festively packaged Chinese New Year cakes made from glutinous rice, and special New Year's sweets.

And hey, got any fireworks left over from last month? Set off some firecrackers to scare away evil spirits.

Next week, the festivities continue with Phoenix Chinese Week. The annual celebration of Chinese culture starts on Monday, with a variety of events honoring the new year. The culmination is next weekend's Chinese Festival at the Chinese Cultural Center -- food, performances, vendors, and kids' activities will all be part of the mix.

Gung hay fat choy!

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