New Year, New Us – Lunar New Year in Sonoma County

Chinese New Year Lanterns

Celebrating New Year’s is not just an event for Americans in the United States. The Lunar New Year is celebrated in many different Asian countries, and this year you can get a small taste of what it’s like right here in Sonoma. Lunar New Year in 2020 will start on Saturday, January 25th, ushering in the Year of the Rat.

Ways to Celebrate the Lunar New Year in Sonoma

Go and learn about some of the customs that go along with Lunar New Year at the Santa Rosa Library. They will be hosting a Lunar New Year celebration on January 11 from 2 to 3:30pm. There will be cultural dances and events and classes on calligraphy and crafts. It’s a free event for all ages.

Pho Vietnam Restaurant in Santa Rosa brings creative Vietnamese food to Sonoma County. Try the shrimp spring rolls to start, and make your main entre some delicious pho (I mean what else would you get?)

Soban Korean Cuisine in Petaluma gives you a little taste of authentic Korean faire. Start with Mandu (fried vegetable dumplings. Yumm). For the main dish try something new! Like a savory Korean pancake. We’ll take the Seafood Pancake (a pan-fried pancake with seafood and vegetables). Or, go for Dolsot Bibimbap with your choice of protein (rice with vegetables and a fried egg).

Lily Kai’s in Petaluma, one of Sonoma County’s best Chinese restaurants, carries all the traditional favorites. We’ll start with Crab Cheese Wontons and Fried Lemon Chicken with a side of prawn fried rice. Vegetable Chow Mein anyone?

History (so you don’t come off as a dummy)

The Lunar New Year (or Spring Festival) is a holiday that is celebrated by many different countries across Asia: China, Vietnam, Korea, Tibet, and more. This celebration lasts from the first day of the year (according to the lunisolar calendar) and ends on the first full moon of the lunar calendar, 15 days later.

There are many varied traditions that accompany this holiday. One is “sweeping the grounds,” thoroughly cleaning one’s house to remove bad luck from entering the new year. You might get together with family or take part in religious ceremonies to honor your ancestors. Famously, dancing and fireworks are a popular tradition. Finally, the Lantern Festival is held on the last day of the new year’s celebrations. During this time, lanterns are abundant, and families share traditional foods.

This New Year, after you’ve watched the ball drop and kissed someone at midnight, go out and experience a bit of another culture with the Lunar New Year. You have two weeks to try it all out!