Like many other celebrations, the Lunar New Year will look quite different this year. Manhattan Chinatown’s annual parade has been put on hold — hoping to deploy its dancing lions later this spring — but that shouldn’t stop you from patronizing the city’s oldest Chinatown. In fact, quite the opposite.
As the Chinese diaspora’s most important holiday, Lunar New Year — from Feb. 12 to 26 — is regarded as a most auspicious time, every stage of the two-week celebration meticulously designed to maximize one’s luck. And that holds true particularly when it comes to the food. There is symbolism behind plump dumplings, luck to be gained by eating a whole fish, and long-held beliefs in heaping bowls of noodles. You are what you eat, and we could all use the extra luck.
Even if you’re not the superstitious type, consider this: Chinatowns need our help. It was right around Lunar New Year of 2020 that Chinese businesses first felt the xenophobic ripples of the novel coronavirus, and suffered drastic drops in business. With no increase in tourism, and empty offices depriving the area of its usual lunch crowd, these family-owned businesses are hurting deeply.
Let’s tell a better story in 2021, and show up for Chinese and Taiwanese restaurants this Lunar New Year. Many are open and offering festive specials for takeout and outdoor dining — the parade is cancelled, but you may still hear some firecrackers in the background. Here’s where to celebrate and eat your way through the Year of the Ox.