Anticipating Chinese New Year in Chinatown #NYC:
Chinese New Year is approaching, and since our children are studying Mandarin, we thought a visit to Chinatown #NYC would be a great way to introduce them to some Chinese traditions and customs.
Chinese New Year is also called the Spring Festival. It is the most important festival in Chinese culture and the longest. It starts on the 23rd day of the twelfth lunar month of the Chinese calendar, which runs differently than our Gregorian calendar, and it lasts for about 23 days. It ends on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month of the following year, which is known as the Lantern Festival. Chinese New Year is celebrated with feasting, parades and fireworks. It is a time when families gather together and children collect lucky red envelopes. Chinese all over the world honor these traditions.
And while residents of other cities might not agree, we think New York City has the finest Chinatown in North America!
Colorful Dragon in Chinatown #NYC
Chinatown in Manhattan is a quick subway ride from both Grand Central Station and Penn Station on the 1 subway to the Canal Street stop. If you drive, be aware that parking in the area is extremely difficult, so it is best to park in Tribeca and then walk over.
Everyone should try dim sum at least once. We love it as Chinese brunch, although it is being served more and more at dinner. In a centuries-old tradition, waiters and waitresses bring around a tempting array of already prepared bite-sized and individual portions of delectable dishes on a cart. The experience is quite extraordinary. You can select a traditional dish like Kung Po beef but at the same time sample delicious Szechuan shrimp dumplings while devouring sweet barbecue pork buns. Waiters in Chinatown speak English, so don’t hesitate to ask about the ingredients of the different dishes. Our children love the spare ribs the most and the turnip cake the least. We really enjoy hearing them try to decipher both the Mandarin and the Cantonese that are spoken at the same time, very loudly and rapidly.
The best and most famous restaurant is Jing Fong, which is at 20 Elizabeth Street. Its cavernous dining room seats 150 people, but they do not take reservations, so on the weekends try to get there before 11:30 or you will have at least a 30-minute wait. Jing Fong is loud, but it is an experience not to be missed.
If the line at Jing Fong is too long, a good alternative is Ping’s Seafood at 22 Mott Street. Ping’s is smaller than Jing Fong, with very little wiggle room between the tables. You don’t get the full effect of the massive carts, but the waiters do a great job of bringing around a variety of dishes on large trays multiple times.
When you are done, you truly feel like they say in Cantonese: You are going to explode!
After brunch, leave lots of time for shopping and walking off the calories, as Chinatown offers everything for sale and, if you are willing to bargain, at a decent price.
We had a fun time finding statuettes for the birth year of each of the children. We are the parents of a tiger, a horse and a rooster.
When you calculate your birth sign, remember that the Chinese year is lunar, so it starts later. People born in January and part of February are the sign of the preceding year.
Did you know that 2015 is the year of the sheep and that it starts on February 19th?
The Chinese New Year Good Luck Cat
And since we were buying statuettes, we of course had to buy a Good Luck Cat for an optimal 2015!
Chinatown also boasts a variety of fine jewelers. Friends of ours highly recommend Las Americas Jewelry Corporation at 205-B Canal Street. They sell fine jewelry and watches, as well as custom pieces, and are closed only on major holidays.
One of the finest dressmakers for qipaos, the traditional Chinese one-piece dress, is Pearl River at 477 Broadway. It’s a modern Chinese dept store which has everything from gadgets to clothing to furniture. They are highly recommended for their service, and their fabrics are exquisite.
So we hope you are also Anticipating Chinese New Year in Chinatown #NYC!
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