BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — February 12 marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year, which is also called the Spring Festival, which is celebrated for 15 days.
"It's wonderful that we have a diverse community, and among Asians, we get to celebrate this time of new beginnings, the Lunar New Year. Let's continue as a community to embrace the diverse cultures, "Gung Hei Fat Choy! Happy New Year," said Mayor Karen Goh.
Before the pandemic, large celebrations could be seen across the world, but this year for many Asian cultures they are honoring it differently.
Nina Ha, President of Bakersfield Chinese Women's Club, says for the first time in decades their club is not having its annual Chinese New Year banquet.
"We usually put on this massive Chinese New Year banquet. We have lion dancers, cultural musicians, and lots of really fun prizes. And so, we are missing that this year we are not able to celebrate it the way that we used to. And we're a little sad but hopeful," said Ha.
2021 is the year of the Ox, which is a part of the Chinese zodiac and has existed in Chinese culture for nearly 2,000 years.
Throughout celebrations, you would usually see fireworks, traditional lion dances, and a lot of red. And that color is meant to scare off a monster from old folklore.
Ha says, they decided to cancel the banquet, because of concerns about the pandemic.
On the other hand, but the club has been gathering in virtual settings like zoom, and using unique ways, like origami folding to celebrate.
"Well, some people are getting online decorations. One thing our club has done in the past is make origami animals of the zodiac. So, instead of getting together this year. We've sent out instructions on how to make them," said Karen Polyniak, a member of Bakersfield Chinese Women's Club.
Ha says the celebrations are needed as the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenging year for all.
Especially Asian Americans, as many have felt racially targeted "about anti-Chinese and anti-Asian sentiment surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and its origins in Wuhan, China."
Ha says this year can be a moment of growth for all Americans.
"There is a lot going on in this world," said Ha. "I think we are really focusing on kindness, compassion, and prosperity in the new year."
If you are celebrating the Lunar New Year at home and are looking for some unique ways to celebrate, the Bakersfield Chinese Women's club has shared some at-home origami links. Check them out below!