The Western-style Gregorian calendar arrived in China along with Jesuit missionaries in 1582. It began to be used by the general population by 1912, and New Year’s Day was officially recognized as occurring on January 1.
Beginning in 1949, under the rule of Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong, the government forbade celebration of the traditional Chinese New Year and followed the Gregorian calendar in its dealings with the West.
But at the end of the 20th century, Chinese leaders were more willing to accept the Chinese tradition. In 1996, China instituted a weeklong vacation during the holiday—now called Spring Festival—giving people the opportunity to travel home and to celebrate the new year.
Did You Know?
San Francisco, California, claims its Chinese New Year parade is the biggest celebration of its kind outside of Asia. The city has hosted a Chinese New Year celebration since the Gold Rush era of the 1860s, a period of large-scale Chinese immigration to the region.
In the early 21st century, many Chinese families spent a significant amount of their discretionary income celebrating the Spring Festival with traditional symbols and food. They also spent time watching the televised Spring Festival Gala: an annual variety show featuring traditional and contemporary singers, dancers and magic demonstrations.
Although the rites of the holiday no longer had religious value, people remained sensitive to the zodiac animals to the extent that they considered what, for example, a Year of the Dog in 2018 might mean for their personal fortunes or for a child born at that time.
A change in attitude toward the Spring Festival has occurred in China’s young people, with Chinese college students reporting that they prefer surfing the Internet, sleeping, watching TV or spending time with friends over celebrating with family. They also reported not liking traditional New Year food such as dumplings and glutinous rice pastry.
With its change of name from Chinese New Year to Spring Festival, for some members of the younger generation the holiday has evolved from an opportunity to renew family ties to a chance for relaxation from work.
Millions of people around the world, including many in North Texas, will celebrate Lunar New Year (aka Chinese New Year) on Saturday.
In Dallas-Fort Worth, many will mark the holiday with feasting and festivals but there are some unique ways to learn about and love the Asian culture.
Here are five ways to mark the Year of the Rooster in North Texas:
Never miss a local story.
Sign up today for a free 30 day free trial of unlimited digital access.
The Crow Collection of Asian Art is a great way to learn about the ancient and modern history of China, Japan, India, Korea and Southeast Asia through art.
This thoughtfully curated, free museum holds a big Chinese New Year celebration that includes lion and dragon dances, calligraphy and kung fu demonstrations, as well as fun arts and crafts for the kids. Come early for the food trucks serving traditional noodle dishes, then stay late for the grand finale fireworks display.
Good to know: If you miss the celebration, please note that the museum is always free. A new exhibit, “Landscape Relativities: The Collaborative Works of Arnold Chang and Michael Cherney,” will open Feb. 25.
When: 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Crow Collection of Asian Art, 2010 Flora St., Dallas
Dig into dim sum
For the uninitiated, dim sum can be an overwhelming and exhilarating experience. Servers pushing rolling carts filled with food surround your table with offerings of small plates to share family-style.
Mainstays to order include scrumptious dumplings, steamed barbecue pork buns, Chinese broccoli with oyster sauce, pork ribs and baked pineapple buns. Most servers are happy to describe what’s in their cart. Just point at what looks, smells and sounds good to you for a delightful brunch treat.
Plates usually range in price from $2 to $6 each so you’ll have a better experience with a big group to split the bill. While there are several dim sum restaurants in DFW, Kirin Court is the gold standard on Yelp. And guess what? They serve dim sum all day. However, if you come 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on weekends and most holidays, expect a painfully long wait for a table.
Good to know: At most dim sum restaurants, if you already know what you want and don’t see it in the cart, you can order your item, which will be delivered fresh and hot to your table.
When: 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: Kirin Court, 221 W. Polk St., No. 200, Richardson
Find the right ingredient
Are you a weekend chef looking for the right spices or ingredients to go into that recipe you’ve been meaning to try? Try H Mart. The 70,000-square-foot Korean supermarket anchors the Shops of Old Denton, which has become DFW’s version of Koreatown. Inside, there’s fresh produce, meat, live seafood and every Asian snack and candy imaginable. Plus, a food court serves up a diverse array of tasty treats including hot pastries, bibimbap and sushi.
Good to know: As you snack your way through the food court, you might want to save some room. There’s a few Korean restaurants nearby, including Ssam Korean Grill and Shabu Shabu or Omi Korean Grill and Bar.
When: 8 a.m.-11 p.m. daily
Where: H Mart, 2625 Old Denton Road, No. 200, Carrollton
Celebrate at Times Square
You won’t see a shiny ball drop when the clock strikes midnight, but you will get a taste of what a Lunar New Year is all about for Southeast Asians at Asian Times Square in Grand Prairie. The weekendlong event includes a kids zone, lion dances, performances, concerts and … Vietnamese bingo. Plus, its free!
Good to know: At 11 a.m. Saturday, watch a special lion dance performance with firecrackers.
When: 6 p.m.-midnight Friday; 10 a.m.-midnight Saturday; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday
Where: Asian Times Square, 2625 W. Pioneer Parkway, Grand Prairie
Kick it up at karaoke
Haven’t gotten the nerve to stand up in front of a drunken bar crowd to sing your version of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing?That’s OK. Do the truly Asian thing and rent a karaoke room at Round 1.
Yes, it’s a bowling place … bonus, right? Take your squad or family of crooners and sing to your heart’s content. You could even try singing your favorite tune in Chinese, Spanish or Japanese.
Good to know: Rates per hour vary by the number people participating and timeframe. Check website for prices.
When: 10 a..m.-2 a.m.
Where: Round 1, Grapevine Mills Mall, 3000 Grapevine Mills Parkway, Grapevine; Arlington Parks Mall, 3811 S. Cooper St., Suite 6004, Arlington
The Crow Collection of Asian Art holds a big Chinese New Year celebration that includes fun arts and crafts for the kids.
CAN TURKYILMAZ The Crow Collection of Asian Art
Kirin Court in Richardson serves dim sum all day.
LAURIE L. WARD Star-Telegram archives
Asian Times Square in Grand Prairie has a weekendlong Lunar New Year celebration.
Asian Times Square via Facebook
Round 1 offers private karaoke rooms where you can sing out loud without the crowds.
Maricar Estrella email@example.com