Monday, June 17, 2024

Mexico City residents and visitors gather to celebrate Lunar New Year

Hundreds of residents and tourists gathered in Mexico City’s Chinatown on Sunday to celebrate the Lunar New Year, the first time the holiday has been observed without restrictions since before the pandemic.

The festivities included a parade, exhibitions, conferences and the sale of items like golden rabbits (the animal associated with the upcoming year), lamps, gifts and paper hats with Chinese characters. Food vendors also sold steamed dumplings, fortune cookies and traditional bao bread.

Crowds packed Chinatown for the festivities on Sunday.
Crowds packed Chinatown for the festivities on Sunday. (Edgar Negrete Lira / Cuartoscuro.com)

This year’s celebration marks the start of the Year of the Rabbit and the end of the Year of the Tiger, signaling the beginning of spring. In Chinese culture, the rabbit traditionally represents longevity and peace (though the Lunar New Year is also celebrated in South Korea, Vietnam and other East Asian countries).

Venues held events exhibiting Chinese dance and other shows, and there were conferences and presentations throughout the city. A parade took place in the morning.

Mexico City’s Chinatown is located on a two-block stretch of Dolores street in the Centro Histórico, and has been the primary center of Chinese culture in the capital since the 1930’s.

International and local tourists are drawn to the festivities for different reasons. A family from Mexico City dressed in traditional Chinese clothing said they came to Dolores street to enjoy the celebration, but also to attract good fortune in the new year.

Two people with elaborate hand-made rabbit masks, fans and other accessories in a crowded urban setting.
Costume contest participants. (Centro Cultural de China en México)

“Chinese culture, food and traditions attract our attention, that’s why we came as a family,” they said, “and also to see if a little bit of good luck joins us.”

A tourist from Argentina said he “finds it very moving that Mexico City has so many of its own customs, but people also participate in the customs of other countries.”

The Lunar New Year is a crucial time for the area’s merchants, who see a boost in sales. This is the first celebration without COVID-19-related restrictions since the start of the pandemic. The crowd grew so dense that attendees had trouble navigating the street.

As part of the celebration, Mexico City held its sixth annual themed costume contest, where participants were encouraged to dress according to the themes of the Lunar New Year. The event took place along Reforma avenue during the weekly event Muévete en Bici, during which streets are closed to vehicular traffic to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians.

City Culture Minister Claudia Curiel de Icaza, Chinese embassy representative Wang Huijun, and the director of the Cultural Center of China in Mexico, Luo Jon, presented the awards for best costumes.

With reports from Razon and the Mexico City Government

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