Best Ways To Celebrate Lunar New Year In Sacramento

February 8, 2013 5:00 AM

Lunar New Year begins on February 10 this year, ushering in the year of the Snake. Celebrations, foods and other traditional trappings of the two-week Chinese New Year can be found all over the Sacramento area. According to Chinese astrology, those born under the snake sign of the zodiac are good luck, so 2013 is a perfect year to begin celebrating the holiday.

chinese snake
Sacramento Chinese New Year Celebration
Scottish Rite Masonic Center
6151 H St.
Sacramento, CA 95819

Date: Feb. 16

Thousands of people attend the event each year, put on by the nonprofit Chinese New Year Culture Association as well as local churches and community groups. The celebration includes the powerful dragon dance, which involves a fierce dragon carried on poles and brought to life by a team of dancers. Other ethnic music and dance take place throughout the festivities, as do displays of grace and athletic prowess using kung fu and tai chi. There are crafts and other activities for the kids, along with cultural displays and vendors. Best of all is the food; all types of traditional and modern Chinese dishes are available for purchase at the event.

new year library
Sacramento Public Libraries

Sacramento libraries offer many resources for learning about the rich history, customs and celebrations of the Lunar New Year. Books such as “Bringing in the New Year” by Grace Lin and “This Next New Year” authored by Janet S. Wong are enjoyable ways to teach children about the holiday. For those interested in learning if they are a snake, horse, tiger or other creature, books including Suzanne White’s “The New Chinese Astrology” are a good resource. These and other fun and educational titles are available for borrowing at various locations in the Sacramento Public Library system.

Related: Best Ethnic Grocery Stores In Sacramento 

(credit: MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images)

(credit: MIKE CLARKE/AFP/Getty Images)

Sacramento Certified Farmers Markets

There are decorations and gifts commonly associated with Chinese New Year, and it is easy to find many of the traditional items at Sacramento’s year-round certified farmers’ markets. Blooming plants symbolize growth and prosperity in the year ahead and cut flowers often grace the living rooms of celebrators. Fresh oranges and tangerines are used for decorations and as gifts, as are certain varieties of dried fruits. Sacramento farmers’ markets charge reasonable prices and have the best quality and most colorful fruits, cut flowers and plants in the area.

blue sky chinese

New Blue Sky Chinese Restaurant
1500 W. El Camino Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95833
(916) 922-5440

Food is a central feature of Lunar New Year celebrations, with different delicacies served on certain days. New Blue Sky is one of many Sacramento restaurants that offer traditional sumptuous dishes. Dumplings are a staple of the holiday, with some made sweeter with sugar, fruit and flowers and more savory versions with meats and vegetables. Spring rolls, soups made with fruit or sweet wine and rice and fish, duck, chicken and pork dishes are popular, as are many tasty dishes made with red bean paste. Various foods, dances and décor of China are seen as symbolic portends, with many traditions of the holiday meant to secure things such as prosperity, rebirth and personal growth during the year ahead.

(credit: stu_spivack via

(credit: stu_spivack via

ABC Bakery
1309 Florin Road, Suite F
Sacramento, CA 95831
(916) 421-4259

There are many desserts that are popular during Chinese New Year celebrations, often slightly less sweet than typical American treats. Zeen doy is made with balls of glutinous rice flour that is rolled in sesame seeds and fried. Creamy egg custard tarts in flaky crusts are often served, as is eight precious pudding. The pudding is made with dried fruits and red bean paste, and is eaten with sweet almond sauce. These and other traditional Chinese sweets can be found at the popular ABC Bakery; go early in the day as the egg custard often sells out.

Related: Top Arts & Crafts Activities For Kids In Sacramento

Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
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