By Pati Navalta
Lunar New Year festivities kicked off on Feb. 12, albeit with less flare and more virtual viewing options than in years past. This year marks the Year of the Ox, which—if you were born in 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1997, 2009 or this year—is your year, according to the Chinese zodiac calendar. COVID-19 restrictions prevent the colorful celebrations and parades we have come to expect in San Francisco’s Chinatown and throughout the Bay Area, but there are still ways to celebrate the holiday from the safety of your own home.
Here are just a few:
The San Francisco Symphony is presenting the Chinese New Year Virtual Celebration: Year of the Ox, a digital concert event on Saturday, Feb. 20, hosted by Joan Chen, and featuring San Francisco Symphony musicians, conductor Ming Luke, yangqin player Wenying Wu, erhu player Tao Shi, and other special guests. This event highlights themes of prosperity, unity, and growth in a program celebrating China’s vibrant musical traditions, past and present.
The Chinese New Year Virtual Celebration: Year of the Ox is co-chaired by Tiffany Chang and Nanci Nishimura. Sponsors of the celebration will be granted access to exclusive VIP virtual pre- and post-concert events featuring special guests and musical experiences. The event schedule includes: 3 p.m., Virtual Event Space Opens; 3:30 p.m. Spring Celebration Welcome Reception; 4 p.m. Chinese New Year Concert Event; 4:30 p.m., Post-Concert Lunar Reception. To purchase tickets by phone, call 415.503.5351, or buy tickets online here.
In lieu of a live parade, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of San Francisco presents “Year of the Ox on Parade,” commissioning 11 life-size ox sculptures that have been placed around the city. Visitors can scan QR codes at the base of each of the oxen to learn more about the piece. Each sculpture will be auctioned off after March 14, with proceeds going to various nonprofit organizations. Runs through March 14. For locations, click here.
The Oakland Asian Cultural Center has been presenting Lunar New Year events from around the world since Feb. 12. There’s still time to catch more if you haven’t been tuning in. Here are the remaining events: Mongolian, Feb. 16; Japanese, Feb. 17, Tibetan, Feb. 18 and a Quarantini Mixer with traditional food and drinks, Feb. 19. Register here for Zoom meeting access.
You can also support local Asian American Pacific Islander businesses by participating in the cultural center’s Virtual Community Night Market, which promotes locally owned AAPI restaurants and businesses. The online directory runs through April 19.
On Feb. 18, you can gather your kids for a reading of The Year of the Ox: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac. The story, written by Oliver Chin and illustrated by Jeremiah Alcorn, is part of a series featuring the 12 animals that represent the Chinese New Year. This virtual program is recommended for elementary-aged children, but all are welcome. Free, $10 donation suggested. Get tickets here.
Photo credits: Chinese New Year, David Yu via Flickr. Red lanterns, mentatdgt from Pexels.