Many of us in Cleveland celebrate the New Year each year on January 1, with champagne toasts and celebrations as soon as the clock strikes midnight.
But this New Year’s tradition isn’t the only one that people celebrate!
There’s another New Year to celebrate, and that’s Lunar New Year.
What is Lunar New Year?
Also sometimes called Chinese New Year because it’s based on the lunar-solar Chinese calendar, Lunar New Year is a 15-day-long holiday that begins at the start of the new lunar year and lasts until the Lantern Festival two weeks later.
The holiday is also sometimes known as the Spring Festival, though it usually takes place each year in late January or early February on the Gregorian calendar most Western nations use.
The Lunar New Year is a holiday that has been celebrated for thousands of years, and is deeply rooted in history.
The holiday – which is celebrated in many Asian cultures as well as in areas around the world with large Chinese populations – is one that centers around honoring deities and ancestors, and is a time for family and friends to gather.
In 2023, the Lunar New Year begins on January 22. The holiday will usher in the Year of the (Water) Rabbit.
Lunar New Year traditions
Some Lunar New Year/Spring Festival traditions you may see families participating in include:
- Doing some pre-New Year spring cleaning around the house.
- Putting up lots of red decorations, as red is an auspicious color.
- Honoring the dead, including visiting graves and leaving offerings of food to ancestors.
- Having a big family dinner on New Year’s Eve.
- Exchanging gifts – including red envelopes filled with money.
- Buying and wearing new clothing to ring in the New Year.
- Lion dances and fireworks!
- Eating “lucky” foods like fish, dumplings, sweet rice balls, fruit (especially mandarins and oranges), and more.
Lunar New Year in Cleveland
Cleveland has Lunar New Year celebrations each year, usually centering around AsiaTown on the city’s near east side.
If you would like to learn more about this cultural holiday or partake in some of the festivities yourself, here are some things currently planned this year:
1. See the Kwan Lion Dance Team
Where: Various locations
When: Various dates in January
The Kwan Lion Dance Team is the area’s premiere group that performs traditional lion dances. You can catch their performances at the following area venues this year:
- JACK Casino (January 15 at 3 p.m., starting on the third floor)
- John Carroll University (January 18 at 1:50 p.m. – for students/staff only)
- Li Wah restaurant (January 21 at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., January 22 at 7 p.m., January 28 at 11 a.m.)
- Asia Plaza (January 21 at 11:30 a.m.)
- Asian Town Center (January 22 at noon)
- Lobster & Pho in Independence (January 22 at 5:30 p.m.)
- Imperial Wok Chinese Restaurant in Solon (January 27 at 5 p.m. and February 11 at 4:30 p.m.)
- Hunan by the Falls in Chagrin Falls (January 29 at 5:30 p.m.)
- China Jade Restaurant (February 12 at 1 p.m.)
2. Lunar New Year at Asia Plaza
Where: Asia Plaza (2999 Payne Ave, Cleveland)
When: Saturday, January 21 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
AsiaTown is throwing its annual Lunar New Year event again this year. The celebration will include demonstrations of things like Kung Fu and acrobatics, dances by the Kwan Lion Dance Team and others, and even a K-pop dance party starting at 2 p.m.
While you’re there, you can also shop and dine at several locally-owned Asian stores and restaurants. More info on the event here.
3. Cuyahoga County Public Library
Different branches of the Cuyahoga County Public Library usually organize Lunar New Year events each year, which often include concerts and kids’ crafts.
This year, kids can participate in the following:
- Chinese Language Storytime at the Beachwood Branch – January 18 and February 15 at 4 p.m.; featuring stories, songs, and rhymes in Mandarin Chinese. Register here for Jan. 18 and here for Feb. 15.
- Lunar New Year Celebration at Cleveland Public Library (Superior Ave.) – March 4 at 3:30 p.m.
4. Eat Lunar New Year foods
AsiaTown is filled with excellent Chinese and other Asian restaurants, many of which will serve up traditional new year foods.
A few you can be assured to find authentic eats at include:
- LJ Shanghai
- LiWah Restaurant
- Sichuan Hot Pot
- Koko Bakery
You can also always shop at local Asian grocery stores like Good Harvest, Asia Food Co, and Park to Shop.
Will you be enjoying any Lunar New Year celebrations this year?
Amanda was born and raised in northeast Ohio, and has always been a fangirl of her home state. Now, she’ sharing her love of the Cleveland area with the world, highlighting all the best things to do, see, and eat in the CLE. She’s been running Cleveland Traveler since January 2019.