Lunar New Year celebrations go virtual

Leonard Greene, New York Daily News
·2 min read

Goodbye rat. Hello ox.

The Chinese New Year kicks off on Friday, though in New York and much of the world celebrations will be scaled back because of coronavirus concerns.

That means lost revenue for Chinatown, where the weeks-long festival is usually big business for shops and stores.

Parades and programs usually draw huge crowds to Chinese communities in New York and across the nation 1/4 u201a typically generating about 30% of annual revenue for restaurants and stores that are now struggling to stay afloat because of the pandemic, according to CNN.

But pandemic protocols have forced many celebrations to the virtual world, taking even more money out of the pockets of establishments already suffering from lockdowns.

Bo Ky Restaurant owner Chi Vy Ngo said he spent the days ahead of the new year preparing for take out orders instead of the crowds of customers he would see most years.

“We expect tomorrow to have somewhere between 60-80 lbs. of pork chops for people to buy and take home and cook for themselves,” Ngo told CNN Business. “Right now we only run 30% of the menu.”

Celebrants are bidding farewell to the Year of the Rat and saying hello to the Year of the Ox. In the Chinese zodiac, the ox is associated with hard work and serenity.

Though the occasion is meant to be spent with family and friends, the coronavirus crisis means that celebrations around the world – from the United States to Britain to China – will look different this year for the 1.5 billion people who observe the occasion.

In New Jersey, where Asian Americans account for 10% of the state’s 8.9 million people, those who mark the day are arranging everything from drive-thru celebratory meals to Zoom performances to ensure that this year will be one to remember.

“We’re helping to bring normal to not a normal year,” Yoon Kim, director of the Korean American Association of New Jersey, told USA Today. The organization will distribute food at a drive-by event and will host a food drive this weekend.

In the Big Apple, New Yorkers have a number of online options that include live performances, puppet shows, food demonstrations and crafts.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is featuring a celebration with virtual performances, interactive activities, and artist-led workshops for all ages. The lineup includes dancers from The New York Korean Performing Arts Center. The free, online event will all be prerecorded and will be available to view on The Met website.

Manhattan’s China Institute is hosting a virtual New Year Celebration. The interactive event will include live performances and various craft workshops.