Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Happy New Year from Asian-American Village!

On February 7, the traditional Chinese calendar rolls into year 4706, and we roll with it with a new feature, Chinese New Year, Los Angeles Style, by frequent Village contributor Susie Ling of the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California. Her feature provides a succinct look at area events planned to welcome the Year of the Rat, with a historical twist.

Although our Lunar New Year section has become more of an archive of (lots of) collected readings from years past than a regular annual feature, we will continue to add small news items and other features related to theme as they come.

Now, an important announcement:

Lunar New Year Is Not Synonymous with Chinese New Year

Let's repeat that, for emphasis:

Lunar New Year Is Not Synonymous with Chinese New Year

While we're on the topic, every year we get a few complainers coming by and flaming us (probably without having actually read the section) and accusing us of conflating Chinese New Year and Lunar New Year, or misrepresenting Lunar New Year as an exclusively Chinese thing.

Why don't you say anything about Tet or TĂȘt for that matter!

Why don't you say that Korean Lunar New is Sol, celebrated on the first day of the first month of Lunar New Year?

Why don't you write about Losar, the Tibetan Lunar New Year, which is usually close to, but not necessarily the same day as, Chinese New Year?

Well, the answer is, we do (or at least, have done).

But, we also admit that after years of this, we lack the editorial wherewithal and frankly interest in tracking and in many cases regurgitating stuff about this crazy array of always-moving, never-quite-synchronized, sort-of-similar-but-not-really, moving-target holidays. Now, being honest, we know that it can be hard sometimes to keep track of our own ethnic holidays on a lunar calendar, much less every other ethnic group's.

That said, we do make small updates and run seasonal features about LNY every year, in January or February or March or whenever the heck it is this time around. When we get in submissions related to other aspects of the lunar holidays (not just New Year), we often run them. This can include features, reader letters, events listings, or news items related to theme from around the country and the world from the AP or other sources we subscribe to. But, we have to say, that in general, we get a lot more stuff sent our way about Chinese New Year than others -- whether from contributor pitches or newswires or readers, as well as through mainstream media. We don't know why. Maybe it's becasue there are more Chinese Americans than other groups who bother with a lunar calendar. Or, maybe it's just that Chinese Americans are more "party people"? (I'm not Korean, but I've noticed that over many years now, I'm usually the one my Korean American friends here in the Midwest have come to rely on to remind them when Sol is approaching -- like the seasonal products aisle at Walgreen's.)

So, this year, before you write to berate us for thinking that Lunar New Year is Chinese New Year, we say: Put up or shut up! You have something of interest to say or announce or report on for your New Year, then send it in or, for more time-sensitive stuff, post it here!


Meanwhile, happy new year/tet/losar/sol, etc., etc. to everyone -- the point being, may the year just starting bring health, happiness, and good fortune to us all!