Happy Lunar New Year!

For some Asian cultures, today is the first day of the Lunar New Year, which also means that it’s time for lots of food and lots of family.

And for readers who are celebrating, hey! Happy year of the dog! Here’s a video of one doing a lion dance. Awwwwwww.

If you’re in San Francisco, New York or any other area with a significant Asian diaspora, you might see a couple celebrations around. Maybe a parade or two. And if you do, you can drop this knowledge on your unsuspecting tagalongs.

Time for your classic Slant history lesson

Parades are a super American thing, and during the 1860s Gold Rush, Chinese immigrants totally paid attention.

In fact, that’s why they started parades like San Francisco Chinatown’s: because immigrants were terrified of discrimination and wanted to make their culture palatable to a wider audience.

As later parade organizers looked on the Chinese Exclusionary Act and Japanese American internment, Chinese New Year parades became just as much PR ploys as they were cultural displays.

But they’re not the only game in town

That PR could be spread to other celebrations, too. Mongolians celebrate White Moon on February 27. Cambodians observe their own new year’s celebration in April. Thai folks observe Songkran then, too, and …

… well, there’s a whole list of celebrations that aren’t just based on the Chinese calendar.

And if that’s you, we see ya, and we’re committing to cover your history and culture, too. And you’re still invited over to eat because, um, someone’s gotta help us eat all this food.

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