The Year When Pigs Fly

The 120th annual Chinese New Year parade and festival celebrates the Year of the Pig, completing the 12-year cycle. Above, dancing dragons lead the Golden Dragon Parade, replete with floats, marching bands and dignitaries, and one of L.A.’s oldest traditions. Photo courtesy of Chinese Chamber of Commerce

On February 5, local Asian communities celebrated the Lunar New Year, and welcomed the Year of the Pig.

Every year in the Chinese zodiac is assigned one of 12 animals, and one of five elements.

The Pig is the 12th symbol, the end of a 12-year cycle. Some legends say the amiable and good-natured pig refused to hurry when summoned by the legendary Jade Emperor, and arrived last at the feast where the order of the years was established. That didn’t trouble Pig. As far as he was concerned, last is as good as being first, a position held by the ambitious and clever Rat.

Pigs are traditionally a symbol of wealth and good fortune. This year’s element is Earth. Taken together, the Year of the Earth Pig is said to have the potential to bring wealth, prosperity, and good fortune, the kind earned through honest work and good actions—hallmarks of the Pig’s character.

Although the official New Year was marked by the new moon on February 5, there are still opportunities to celebrate the Lunar New Year, including one of L.A.’s oldest traditions: the 120th annual Chinese New Year parade and festival in Downtown L.A.’s Chinatown that takes place tomorrow, Saturday, February 9, 1-3 p.m. at the Chinatown Central Plaza.

The celebration, sponsored by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Los Angeles, will feature multi-stage acts that include Kung Fu demos and traditional music, in addition to the annual parade led by dragon dancers.

Other activities include food trucks, ping-pong, a craft beer garden with local breweries, kid-friendly face painting, storytelling, and paper folding.

“Since the mid-1980s, the Golden Dragon Parade has expanded to include almost two dozen floats, multiple marching bands, government officials, various dignitaries, entertainers, local business leaders, and cultural groups. The parade theme emphasizes ethnic diversity, Chinese culture and exposure to Chinese-American businesses,” a press release for the event states.

Lunar New Year is the most celebrated holiday of the year for nearly 1.5 million Southern Californians of Asian descent. It’s a time to remember ancestors and give thanks for the blessings of the year. For everyone, regardless of ethnicity, it’s a colorful, vibrant living part of L.A.‘s cultural landscape.

The Golden Dragon Parade is expected to attract more than 100,000 spectators, so it’s a good idea to leave plenty of time to navigate road closures and traffic jams.  It’s also helpful to check the website for street closures. The parade begins at Hill and Ord Streets at 1 p.m., and concludes at Broadway and Cesar Chavez at 3 p.m.

Tickets are available online for $15-$25. http://www.lagoldendragonparade.com

Suzanne Guldimann
Suzanne Guldimann

Suzanne Guldimann is a writer, artist, and musician who lives in Malibu and loves the Santa Monica Mountains. She’s covered environment, arts, science, history and crime for the local media for more than a decade and is the author of nine books of music for the Celtic harp. She can be reached at suzanne@messengermountainnews.com

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