The annual celebration of Lunar New Year held by the Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area returned to the Chinatown-International District on April 30, bringing tons of excitement to community members after two years of pandemic.
by Debby Cheng
The annual celebration of Lunar New Year hosted by the Chinatown-International District Business Improvement Area (CIDBIA), a celebration that has been traditionally held for decades, returned to the community after two years of pandemic. While last year CIDBIA opted to do a food walk only, this year will be the first Lunar New Year celebration back in-person with the street festival.
On Feb. 6, along 12th Avenue and Jackson Street in Little Saigon, ChuMinh Tofu Vegan Deli hosted a Lunar New Year meal for guests lined down the block. The special menu included rice, vegan BBQ pork, spicy tofu, stir-fried veggies, eggrolls, oranges, and $1,000 distributed to guests in red envelopes. Volunteers served the free food and passed out the envelopes along with warm clothes and supplies to their many guests — not customers per se, but people in need of a warm meal and who may struggle to afford one most days.
Like many Chinese Americans of the diaspora, I have never spoken the dialects of my family with any fluency. There were the words I knew only in Chinese to speak in public without anyone understanding, like “that’s cheap” in Cantonese, ho pang, or “too expensive” in Shanghainese, gesu. There were the words we used at home because they were intimate to us, like pet names, but there were never words that flowed into full sentences, conversations, articulate thoughts. Still, I always knew the language of food. And there is no time that is more important for food than the Lunar New Year. Long noodles are for a long life, whole fish is for abundance, egg dumplings are for money, mandarin oranges are like gold.