Usher in the year of the tiger with these L.A.-area Lunar New Year finds

·4 min read
A collage of design trends for the Lunar New Year.
(Chunkypaper.com; neimanmarcus.com; gucci.com; jonathanadler.com; USC Pacific Asia Museum Shop; aviatornation.com, bunkadoonline.com)

Kicking off with the new moon on Feb. 1 and culminating in the Lantern Festival on Feb. 15, this Lunar New Year ushers in the Year of the Water Tiger. Despite some festivities being canceled due to the coronavirus surge, spirited events are braving Omicron, supplemented by an array of themed goods to welcome the new year.

Through Feb. 13, Disney California Adventure Park visitors can experience Asian cuisine and crafts, as well as Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession. On Feb. 5 and 6, the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens hosts a festival with martial arts presentations, lion dancers, live music, calligraphy and floral arts (advance online tickets required, adult admission is $29, free for members). South Coast Plaza’s lineup, through Feb. 20, includes themed offers, menus, music, an interactive botanical display and Liuli Crystal Art tiger sculptures as a gift with purchases over $2,500. Concierges at Americana at Brand and the Grove will hand out red envelope discounts and complimentary totes.

Hu Ying, a professor of East Asian studies at UC Irvine's School of Humanities, explains that the backbone of the holiday is the ancient Chinese lunisolar calendar. “The folk tradition of 12 zodiac animals and the cosmic scheme of five elements (metal, wood, water, fire and earth) are mapped onto the traditional Chinese calendar, so the water tiger comes up every 60 years,” Ying explained. “Lunar New Year is celebrated in much of East Asia, including China, Vietnam and Korea, but not in Japan since the adaptation of the Gregorian calendar in 1873.”

So what are the qualities of the water tiger?

“Think of water in contrast to what it is not — immobile, stable or fiery,” Ying said. ”[The] water tiger is action-oriented. In a new-agey way, you could say it goes with the flow, with the force of least resistance. A hard, stuffed tiger is one of the most popular, traditional children’s toys in China. The tiger is outgoing, lively and happy. Not fierce.”

Celebrations include a banquet on Lunar New Year's Eve (which this year falls on the evening of Jan. 31), firecrackers sparking into New Year’s Day, and visits to family and friends through Feb. 3, said Ying, when lucky red envelopes containing monetary gifts are customarily given to children.

Chunky Paper in Chinatown specializes in modern riffs on red envelopes and goods from Asian American and Pacific Islander makers. “In modern times, it’s quite common for red envelopes to be given by friends and co-workers, children to teachers, as casually as the greeting card,” said co-owner Jeff Lien, adding that gift cards or stickers often replace money.

Channel the water tiger’s strength with these 15 items.

Chunky Paper red envelopes

Chunky Paper's red, linen Tiger Cub envelope, $8 at Chunky Paper in Chinatown.

Tiger teacups by Kim Nguyen

Limited-edition ceramic tiger tea cups, $42 each, and tiger sauce dishes, $14 each, by artist Kim Nguyen of Black Slip Babes. Available at Sesame L.A. in Chinatown.

'The Year of the Tiger: Tales of the Chinese Zodiac'

A 36-page hardcover book written by Oliver Chin and illustrated by Justin Roth, “The Year of the Tiger: Tales of the Chinese Zodiac,” $15.95, is available at the Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens store in San Marino.

Kenzo kids' swim trunks

Kenzo boys Pop Tiger drawstring swim trunks, sizes 2 to 12, $92 to $98, available at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills.

Gucci wallet

Leather Gucci Tiger Horsebit 1955 wallet with detachable chain handle, $1,150, available in-store only at Gucci boutiques in Beverly Hills and Costa Mesa.

Hella slingshot

Hella hand-carved wood tiger slingshot with 12 felt balls, $18, at Shop Merci Milo in Highland Park.

Chunky Paper hoodie

A black, cropped heavyweight cotton Water Tiger hoodie, $100 to $105, at Chunky Paper in Chinatown.

Smoko ambient light

Smoko's Jojo Tiger Ambient Light, $20, available at the Giant Robot store on Sawtelle Boulevard.

Joomi Lim earrings

Joomi Lim tiger earrings with Swarovski crystals, $158, at Please Do Not Enter stores in downtown L.A. and at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa.

Jonathan Adler pillow

Jonathan Adler needlepoint Safari pillow, $158, at the Jonathan Adler store in Beverly Grove.

Miya socks

Miya tiger-print tabi (split-toe) socks, $13.75, in adult sizes available in-store only at the USC Pacific Asia Museum’s Shop@PAM store in Pasadena.

Aviator Nation sweatpants

Velvet Jungle Tiger sweatpants, $170 (also in black, with matching sweatshirts for men and women), at Aviator Nation in Venice.

Clare Crespo napkins

Clare Crespo cotton Tiger Tongue napkins, set of four for $82, at heatherlevine.com with curbside pickup available at Heather Levine Ceramics in Los Angeles.

Yakushigama ornament

Yakushigama Year of the Tiger bell ornament, $6.95, available in yellow or white at Bunkado in downtown L.A.

Louis Vuitton puzzle

Louis Vuitton 529-piece, tiger-print jigsaw puzzle in a monogram-embossed box with a Plexiglass drawer, $895, at Louis Vuitton boutiques.

For the record:
1:16 p.m. Jan. 27, 2022: An earlier version of this story included an item depicting a Bengal cat and not a Bengal tiger. Also, the name of the store Bunkado was misspelled Bunkadoo.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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