Love Bloom in Chinatown

By Bonnie Chan

This year, it might surprise you to know that Chinese New Year falls on the same day as one of America’s most well-known holidays — Valentine’s Day! Its festivities tend to elicit strong feel­ings: chances are, you either love the pink and red fanfare and have “candlelit dinner” firmly penciled for 6 PM in your calendar, or you’re an eye-roller, darkly griping to anyone who’ll listen about the pointlessness of Hallmark-hijacked holidays.

Well, this year, we’ve got an interesting suggestion for you. Why not do something off-beat, and spend the day in Chinatown? Grant­ed, Valentine’s Day crossed with Chinese New Year might be one of the stranger combinations out there (Tim Burton’s already got monopoly on the Christmas/Halloween weirdness). One imagines lovers skipping down Canal St. while firecrackers explode in the background, hundreds of hong bao envelopes float dreamily in the air, and lion dance troupes cavort about on the streets — all in very touching slow mo­tion (great opening scene for a movie, by the way; Ang Lee, I’m looking at you). But, in all seriousness, the connection between the two holidays isn’t too much of a stretch.

For one, the Chinese New Year celebrates the completion of the past year and the start of new beginnings. Throughout the fifteen-day period of this holiday, various important rituals such as cleaning and sweeping the house, and putting together symbolic displays of fruits and flowers, heighten the possibility of good luck in the coming year. And, at the risk of sounding cheesy, what is Valentine’s Day in the most

idealistic sense, but a series of rituals affirming and renewing the love in one’s relationship? One takes some time out of the daily routine to recognize and celebrate the other’s company. Be it through a bouquet of roses or thoughtful gesture of one’s choice, the holiday tries to pave the way for a smooth journey ahead.

That said, there are many reasons why spend­ing this day in the neighborhood with your sig­nificant other would just be plain fun! If either of you have a taste at all for rich culture and energetic celebrations, then it would be a per­fect idea to visit Chinatown on the day when it’s most crackling with good cheer. Over the course of this revered holiday, you can experi­ence with your significant other the once-a-year promotions offered by many establishments. In addition, a number of restaurants will design and unveil special menus with classic Chinese dishes specifically designed to garner good luck for the eaters.

Even if you’re a cynic, these important festivi­ties are bound to touch you. Eschew your regu­lar routine — there’s no better way to spend your Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day than being surrounded by emblems of good fortune. Here’s to ever-increasing riches in your personal development, career and your relationships!