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Families ring in first day of Lunar New Year in Sacramento

Families in Sacramento honored their ancestors and deities and wished each other prosperity.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The smell of incense burning and the sounds of laughter and conversations filled the air as families ushered in the Lunar New Year.  

The Sacramento Chinese of IndoChina Friendship Association (SCIFA) held its annual new year event on Tuesday for community members and families to gather and wish each other prosperity. 

Just like the name suggests, the Lunar New Year is based on the lunar calendar and begins with the first new moon and ends on the first full moon. 

“It’s all about the new… washing away the bad things from the old… and welcoming new luck, new happiness,” said Linda Lui, the president of SCIFA. 

Each year, the Lunar New Year takes on different meanings for children and adults, according to Lui. For many children, it marks a new start with new clothes. 

“So in America, everything is abundant. But back in China and Vietnam, you would get one new set of clothes a year,” Lui said. “For adults, the Lunar New Year means the time for new ventures and new luck. 

Families who came by for the event to ring in the Year of the Tiger enjoyed a traditional lion dance in the courtyard, as well as fresh food and live music.

Amid all the lively conversations, family members gifted each other red envelopes with money to signal good luck.

Both outside and inside the temple, people burned incense and prayed in front of deities for blessings while making offerings of fruit and vegetables. 

“It’s exciting because this is such a rich culture in this community here. Most importantly, it’s bringing people together to talk about how we move forward as a community this year,” said District 6 councilmember and Sacramento Mayor Pro Tem Eric Guerra.

For many attendees, the event was about more than just good wishes in the new year. It was about spending quality time with loved ones, especially after tough times during the pandemic. 

“Everybody gets together, gets to see family that’s far away… You have multi-generations and it’s all about food and family and connecting with everybody,” said Woody Hong, an attendee at the event. 

Lui said the Year of the Tiger couldn’t come at a better time during the pandemic. 

“The Year of the Tiger [means] strength, bravery… so it’s pretty powerful, pretty strong,” Lui said. “Hopefully, this year, we’ll be able to overcome everything that’s on our way.” 

RELATED: Events across Sacramento region to ring in the Lunar New Year | Race and Culture

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