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Granite Bay Today

The Student News Site of Granite Bay High School

Granite Bay Today

The Student News Site of Granite Bay High School

Granite Bay Today

The Year of the Dragon: Breathing Fire into the Lunar New Year

Samantha Yee
At the Creative Space Lunar New Year celebration in Old Town Elk Grove, vibrant yellow and blue lions take part in a Lion Dance (Teng Fei Lion Dance Performing Arts Group).

Twenty-five students’ bachi sticks strike the wooden drums at their hips. The students, dressed in vibrant yellow, red, and black martial arts uniforms, are playing in the Koyasan Spirit of Children Taiko performance. 

Sacramento’s Cultural and Creative Economy Manager Jason Jong was one of many proud parents watching their children perform for Old Town Elk Grove’s Lunar New Year Celebration.

“I am thrilled that he has opportunities to perform in festivals and events that uplift our Asian American culture,”  Jong said. “We are very fortunate in the city of Sacramento to have so many Asian cultural traditions celebrating the Lunar New Year.”

 Lunar New Year is a fifteen-day celebration of the arrival of spring and the beginning of a new year on the lunar calendar. 

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As firecrackers signal the Lunar New Year, preparations begin weeks in advance. People spotlessly clean houses to drive away evil spirits, buy new clothes and decorate the house with red lanterns for good luck.

2024 is the Year of the Dragon which as one of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, symbolizes strength, dignity, and good fortune. 

“Last year I was at the (Sacramento) Kings game and…they brought in the dragon dance to recognize the contributions of the API community, including and especially for the lunar year,” Khydeeja Alam, Executive Director of the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs, said. “Every community, every organization, every business celebrates this differently but that’s the beauty of Lunar New Year.”

California is also the only state in the United States to recognize Lunar New Year as an official state holiday. In 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 2596 bill declaring Lunar New Year to be a state holiday to “acknowledge the diversity and cultural significance Asian Americans bring to California.” California is home to more than six million Asian Americans, which make up 17% of its population.

“The diversity of the greater Sacramento region allows different communities to celebrate Lunar New Year in their own unique ways,” Alam said. “This is a time of celebration and bringing people together.”

The Spring Festival, also called Lunar New Year, takes place on Feb. 10. Performing dragon or lion dances scares away evil spirits and brings good luck to businesses. Family elders  give leesee or “lucky money” to the younger generations.

At the climax of the celebration, a 10-course Chinese banquet is served with symbolic delicacies. Long noodles are served for longevity and chicken is served whole with the head for family unity, as well as oysters for good fortune.

Chinese New Year and Lunar New Year are not the same. Chinese New Year focuses on Chinese traditions and cultures, whereas Lunar New Year celebrates various `groups such as Vietnamese, Korean, and Iu Mien.

 Central Valley celebrators can participate in all these traditions from traditional performing arts to authentic cuisine at the Chinese New Year Culture Association (CYNCA) Lunar New Year Celebration. 

“(This) celebration strengthens the bonds of friendship between communities in the Sacramento region,” CYNCA Committee Member, Sunny Liu said. “CNYCA’s commitment to education, diversity, and inclusiveness also helps combat biases and anti-Asian hate crimes exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

The event occurs on Saturday, February 24 at  Luther Burbank High School. 2024 marks over 25 years of CYNCA’s Lunar New Year Celebration. 


Below is a compilation of current Sacramento celebrations of the Lunar New Year. 


February 10 (11 a.m. -3 p.m.): Iu Mien Community Service Lunar New Year

Healthy Village Seniors is hosting a midday celebration involving food, special performances, and plenty of vendors to explore. The Iu Healthy Village Seniors is a program that provides social, educational, and mental support for those between the ages of early ’40s to late ’80s. This event will be held at the Pannell Community Center in Sacramento at 2450  Meadowview Rd.

 February 10 (8 a.m. -10 a.m.): Lunar New Year Run 

Enter the Wild Runners Lunar New Year Run at Fair Oaks. Red envelopes with special prizes and food are part of the festivities at this run or walking jog for the new year. Wild Runners welcomes athletes of all abilities, paces, and backgrounds for the Runs at Wild Runners Fair Oaks. 

February 10 & 11(11 a.m. -8 p.m.): Lunar New Year Festival in Elk Grove

Join the Nor Cal Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce for Lunar New Year activities at Elk Grove Park. Festivities will include a colorful parade with floats, traditional music, and performances. Mrs. Vietnam’s Sacramento pageant will showcase contestants who meet the guidelines of grace, talent, and intelligence. Enjoy traditional Vietnamese cuisine, cultural exhibits, and live entertainment. Trinh Lam and Lam Anh, two celebrity singers from Paris by Night, will be performing throughout the festival. 

February 12 (4 p.m.): Lunar New Year Dance Performance

Enjoy lion dance performances and refreshments. Indulge in refreshments as colorful Chinese lions with huge blinking eyes sway to the beat of the music. The first 100 guests to attend will receive a goodie bag, red envelope, and dragon headband. This event takes place at 1122 Corporate Way, Suite 300. 

February 13 (6 p.m. -8 p.m.): Sip n’ Socialize

Join Sip N’ Socialize for small business networking on 1610 R Street to celebrate the Year of the Dragon. For over 30 years, The Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce represented the largest ethnic chamber in the region for economic development. It represents the interests of the 6,000 Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) owned businesses and 37,000 small businesses within the Sacramento region, primarily focusing on AAPI-owned businesses. 

February 24 (11 a.m.): Asian American Journalist Association (AAJA) Sacramento New Year Dim Sum Mixer 

At Sacramento’s Ming Dynasty Restaurant, meet fellow journalists, media professionals, and members of the AAJA Sacramento Chapter at a dim sum mixer. AAJA is a nonprofit organization that encourages Asian Americans and Pacific youth to pursue journalism careers and leadership positions in the news industry as journalists or news managers to ensure they receive fair and accurate coverage. As a partner with the Sacramento Bee, AAJA offers a summer internship program for college students. 


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