This Sunday marks the start of the Lunar New Year, ushering in the Year of the Rabbit for some of Minnesota’s Asian communities.
Celebrated across China, South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia and other parts of Asia influenced by Chinese culture, the Lunar New Year is a cultural holiday based on the moon cycles and is observed over 15 days. In Minnesota, Asians make up 5.4 percent of the population, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data.
The Twin Cities will host its 12th annual Chinese New Year Celebration this year, one of the largest staple events for Asian Minnesotans. It’s typically a one-day festival organized by the Minnesota International Chinese School, which has a main campus in Edina.
This year it’s been extended to a week-long celebration featuring local Chinese artists, performers and food vendors in partnership with the school, Asia Mall in Eden Prairie and the Chinese Community Center based in the Twin Cities.
“For Chinese people, it’s getting that cultural experience and maybe more resources or connections outside of the Chinese community, but also trying to bring people outside of the community into some of the celebrations we do in learning about the culture that we represent here,” said Justin Lipsky, director of public policy for the Chinese Community Center.
Minnesota Indonesian Society president Ivo White has her home adorned with red decorations to ring in prosperity and wellness for the New Year, also known as “Imlek” in Indonesia. The Lunar New Year is a more recent holiday Indonesia has adopted from China. Indonesians usually have their biggest celebration on the 15th day called “Cap Goh Mei.”
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“In Indonesia, especially Java, we usually have hot pot and for the 15th day, the peak of the celebration. We cook this food called lontong cap goh meh, which is like a rice ball and we eat it with chicken in a bowl of minced soup. It’s very traditional for Chinese people away from China,” said White.
The Lunar New Year ends Feb. 5 and will be celebrated by Asian communities observing the Lunar calendar across the state.
Biggest Lunar New Year events around the Twin Cities
Monday, Jan. 16 through Sunday, Jan. 22: Asia Mall in Eden Prairie is hosting “Chinese New Year Celebration Week” featuring various free live performances by Minnesota Chinese Opera and other local Chinese musicians, along with family activities on the weekend. A shuttle bus will run between Optum at 12125 Technology Drive, Eden Prairie and Asia Mall on Sunday Jan. 22 between 12 to 5 p.m. for those who cannot find available parking.
Saturday, Jan. 21, 12 to 3 p.m.: “Lunar New Year at Midtown Global Market” in Minneapolis will showcase free live music by Guzheng musician Jarelle Barton and dance performances by CAAM Chinese Dance Theatre and Tay Phuong Lions.
Saturday, Jan. 21, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.: “SEOLLAL Lunar New Year Celebration” at White Bear High School, South Campus, will have a Korean market and traditional dance and drum performances, along with a fundraiser for JangmiArts. Tickets can be found at this link.
Saturday, Jan. 21 to Sunday, Jan. 22: “2023 Lunar New Year Celebrations at MOA” is a free two-day event put on by the Metro Regional Arts Council at the Mall of America’s Huntington Bank Rotunda. It will include photo backdrops and Chinese artistic performances.
Saturday, Jan. 28, 8 p.m.: “Lunar New Year with the Minnesota Orchestra” in Minneapolis, presented by the Great Northern and the Minnesota Orchestra, includes music honoring themes of unity and health and will be broadcasted on YourClassical MPR. Tickets can be bought at https://bit.ly/3Fh448V.