SF Chinatown prepares to celebrate the year of the rabbit — a time for hope

The sound of firecrackers will be heard in Chinatowns on both sides of the bay this weekend.  

Chinese New Year falls on Sunday and the preparations for celebrations are in full swing. 

This important cultural holiday is focused on family, food and good fortune.

There is a festive atmosphere in San Francisco Chinatown as the community prepared to celebrate Chinese New Year. 

Sidewalks and shops are filled with people, many buying fruits.

"Tangerines mean lucky. We all want luck in the new year. That's why we put all these in our home," said Karen Chan, a community member shopping for the holiday.

Flowers and tangerine trees are also sold in abundance.  In Cantonese, vendor Xue Qin Huang said Chinese people celebrate prosperity and businesses wish for a successful year.

At AA Bakery, there were long lines to the counter. Owner Henry Chan proudly displays freshly-made new year cake which is in high demand. It's among the specialty sweets made and sold only during the week leading up to new year day.

At Osmanthus Dim Sum Lounge, the staff cooked up traditional dishes.

"We have abalone here, scallops, sea cumber, dried oysters," said A.J. Faung with Osmanthus, as he pointed to a dish called ‘poon choi’ that's eaten on New Year's Eve.

"That's the best of everything. You come to my house to eat. I offer you the best of everything. That's respect. I offer you everything I have," said Stanley Gee with Osmanthus.

Food is a way to bring everyone together on this holiday. On New Year's Day, it's tradition to eat "jai," a vegetarian dish.

At the Chinese Zodiac Store, business was brisk as people snapped up decorations and red envelopes. 

Married people put money in them to give primarily to children, older folks and single people. 

The Chinese zodiac has 12 animals.

This is year of the rabbit. People born under this sign are said to have certain traits.

"They are creative, intelligent, highly intelligent. They are patient and they are peaceful. And for 2023, it's a year for hope," said Nancy Law, owner of the Chinese Zodiac Store.

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There is hope as families come together and wish for good health, fortune and prosperity.

At the close of business on Saturday, New Year's Eve, shop owners will set off firecrackers to chase away evil spirits.

There will a street celebration on Grant Avenue Sunday afternoon at 2 o'clock.  

The public is invited.

KTVU wishes everyone a Happy Chinese New Year of the Rabbit.

Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU. Email Amber at Amber.Lee@Fox.com or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU,  Instagram @AmberKTVU  or Twitter @AmberKTVU