Happy Lunar New Year! It's year of the Snake in Chinatown!

Sunday February 10th was the first day of the Chinese lunar year...and it is the Year of the Snake. In Manhattan firecrackers opened the New Year’s parade, with lion, unicorn, and dragon dance troops marching through the streets Chinatown.  The week-long celebration is preceded by several days of rituals including cleaning the house from top to bottom to get rid of any evil spirits that bring bad luck. Gift packets are prepared and colorful red banners are made. 

Gold ingots
At midnight, it is customary to set off firecrackers, meant to scare away demons but in modern times is a ritual of merriment.  

Families meet to dine on celebratory meals that always include a midnight snack of jiao zi (dumplings). The jiao zi is similar to the ancient word for the new replacing the old. Chinese Dumplings are deliberately shaped like ancient gold or silver ingots, and symbolize wealth. 

To find out where the BEST DUMPLINGS (4 for $1!) are, and to learn more about Chinatown's history and culture, check out my CHINATOWN FOOD TOUR! run through Free Tours by Foot New York City's only name-your-own-price walking tour company.