Chinese New Year—a time to give thanks, hope for positive change

Chinese New Year is Saturday, January 28th, but the celebrations started Friday for New Year's Eve and lasts for about two weeks.

Families are coming together to celebrate the most important holiday of the Chinese culture.

The celebrations are underway in homes, restaurants and on the streets.

In Oakland Chinatown, at closing time late Friday afternoon, workers at LG Supermarket on 10th Street laid out fireworks to welcome the year of the rooster.

They set off 100,000 firecrackers to chase away evil spirits. A tradition followed by other Chinatown businesses.
"This is what you remember. You carry on to the next generation," said Jonathan Leong of Piedmont as he carried his 8 month old daughter Juliet.
Inside LG Supermarket, a shrine is set up with offerings to a higher power asking for a happy new year.

In Cantonese, Lily Guan, the market's owner tells KTVU she wishes for good health.

Special new year's decorations and flowers are sold at street stands.

Vibrant colors such as red, gold and green are desirable. They represent happiness, prosperity and life.
"We decorate the houses. We bring out the different lights. We bring in colors to bring the cold drab season into a more festive time," said Galen Chiu, owner of From the Heart , a flower shop.
At Peony Restaurant , people started arriving in the early evening on Chinese New Year's Eve.

A major part of the celebration is the dinner with family. one on the Eve, one on New Year's Day and another sometime early in the New Year.

"Everyone goes in different directions. You go to college. You go to new jobs. new careers. Everyone spreads out. But once a year you remember to come back and take care of each other ," said Pam Lim who dined with her family at Peony on New Year's Eve.

Multiple courses are served. One popular dish is called "poon choy." It's served in a large bowl. Each ingredient is a symbol. Abalone represents gold or wealth. Sea moss, "fat choy" in Chinese , stands for good fortune.
"The bottom... lots of vegetables together," said Stephen Chan, the restaurant manager. He says this particular dish is made with more than 10 ingredients.
The new year is a time to give thanks and hope for positive change.

"Especially with this year with all the changes and the politics , it's very important for us to focus on family and positive attitudes so we're hoping for the best going into the new year," said Lim

Starting on New Year's Day, red envelopes with money will be given out by married people.

They are symbols of good luck. Happy Year of the Rooster!