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California Event Brings Lunar New Year Festivities to Chinese Diaspora

Many Asians around the world are preparing to celebrate the Lunar New Year. This year, the year of the horse, begins on the last day of January. Many Asian Americans say celebrating the Lunar New Year in the United States is very different from what it’s like in Asia. One tradition in the Los Angeles, California area is going to the Asian American Expo.

From the music, to traditional foods from throughout Asia, to the sea of Asian faces, this event could be anywhere in Asia. But the Asian American Expo is fewer than 50 kilometers east of Los Angeles. It is a place where tens of thousands of people, mainly from the Chinese Diaspora, come as a part of their Lunar New Year Celebration.

“It made our New Year feel so much better,” said Julien Tan who is from Malaysia.

Lily He feels the same way. She said attending the event feels more like a New Year celebration in China, although it is not as good as the celebrations back home.

He remembers Lunar New Year celebrations in China where everyone would be on vacation for weeks. But in the United States she has to work, so the most she can do is go to her mother’s home for a holiday meal.

Originally from Taiwan, Alex Hong said in the United States, he celebrates the western New Year, not the Lunar New Year.

The Asian American Expo is trying to change that by scheduling the annual event around the Lunar New Year and by bringing a more festive feel to the Chinese Diaspora, according to event Operations Director, Gorden Kao.

“Overseas, New Year is a really big event, they bring out the firecrackers - everything - family, food and everything. In the local market, even though there are lot of Chinese immigrants, they do not really do much to celebrate. That is why we are putting on an event where we pretty much bring everything together to get all this done,” Kao said.

The Asian American Expo originally started 33 years ago to bring local businesses together. But it has evolved into an event where consumers can come and see new products from China and Taiwan.

“These are all products that you probably would not find even around here, in the United States,” added Kao.

But many people come for a taste of the old favorites from back home, like a lion dance and some stinky tofu. They are also here to share old cultural traditions in a new land with the next generation.