Volume 20, Number 36 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | Feb. 1 - 7 , 2008

Chinatown readies for the Year of the Rat

By Sebastian Kahnert

This year’s Lunar New Year festivities begin on Feb. 2 with the Flower Market at Confucius Plaza at 10:30 a.m.

The Year of the Rat, 4706, begins Feb. 7 with the traditional fireworks and lion dancers. According to the Chinese horoscope, people who are born in the Year of the Rat are considered courageous, enterprising, smart, affable and calculating.

This year the United States Postal Office is dedicating a stamp in honor of the year of the rat at Yung Wing Public School 124 at 40 Division St.

“It’s like Thanksgiving, New Year and Christmas combined,” said Wellington Chen, executive director of the Chinatown Partnership L.D.C.

Close to 500,000 people attended last year’s firecracker ceremony, and even more people are expected this year to witness the noisy display designed by the Grucci Family.

“The Chinese have a saying, ‘You’ve made it through the year-gate,’ ” explained Chen, “and the celebration is a major milestone.”

And while half a million one-inch firecrackers go up in smoke as part of the traditional Lunar New Year practice to scare away evil spirits, stores and restaurants in Chinatown will benefit from its two-week celebration long after the last firecracker dies away.

“It would be hard to quantify the increase of sales,” said Chen, “but it provides an enormous boost for Chinatown.”

Here’s a list of notable events during the two-week celebration.

Pre-Lunar Flower Market, Feb. 2 thru Feb. 3, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

The outdoor event features Lion Dancing (2/2), cook shows and 30 booths for flowers exhibition and food sampling.

Confucius Plaza – Court Yard, on Division St. between Market St. and Bowery

Lunar New Year Flower Market, Feb. 2 thru Feb. 4, 2/2: 12 p.m. – 10 p.m. 2/3: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m. 2/4: 2 p.m. – 8 p.m. The event features local and regional florists, as well as artist demonstrations in calligraphy, knotting and paper folding.

Columbus Park – Mulberry St., between Bayard and Worth Sts.

Firecracker Ceremony & Cultural Festival, Feb. 7, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Chinese Opera singers and Lion Dance groups perform in front of the stage and later wind their way through the streets. A Firecracker display concludes the ceremony.

Chatham Square, Intersection: Bowery, Mott and East Broadway

Lunar New Year Parade & Festival, Feb. 10, 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. The parade will start at the corner of Mott and Hester St. and wind its way through Mott St., East Broadway, Allen St. and Grand St. Best viewing spot is on Allen St. between Canal and Grand St.

Mott St., between Canal and Bayard Sts.

Lunar Festival, Feb. 20, 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. This small parade concludes the festivities surrounding Lunar New Year. Candles are lit outside houses to guide wayward spirits home and families walk the streets, carrying lighted lanterns.

Market St., East Broadway – Henry St.

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