Horses, goats, rats, and even snakes. Ever wonder why animals are part of the Chinese zodiac? Well, as it turns out, it was all our pal Buddha’s doing. According to legend, Buddha called all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came. Buddha named a year after each one and then proclaimed that people born in each animal’s year would have some of that animal’s personality. The rat is the first animal to appear in the Chinese zodiac (some say he tricked the ox to be first) and although a lot of people dislike rodents, those born in rat years are said to be intelligent, charming, and quick-witted. The bad news is, they are also stubborn, eager for power, and love to gossip.
The Lunar New Year is celebrated in countries across Asia. Festivities generally start with the New Moon on the first day of the new year and end on the full moon 15 days later. Activities in our neck of the woods commemorating the celebration start this weekend and will run through the first two weeks of the month.
Here are a few events to help you celebrate the year of the rat with gusto!
UPDATE: THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED. Break out the noisemakers and confetti for the Chinese New Year Festival 2020 this Saturday at NorthPark Center. The Crow Museum of Asian Art and The University of Texas at Dallas have teamed up for the 3rd year in a row to present this free family-friendly festival. The event features dragon and lion dances, musical and martial-arts demos, specialty booths, wellness activities, cultural performances, and giveaways throughout the mall. There will also be hands-on artmaking opportunities like red envelope decorating, a Year of the Rat-inspired craft, and paper-cutting demonstrations.
Galleria Mall is also ringing in the new year. Their 3-week Lunar New Year Celebration kicks off with an art installation of 250 enormous Chinese lanterns over the shopping center’s ice skating rink to celebrate the Year of the Rat. On Sunday, Feb. 2 the HD Lion Dance Foundation will give a special performance. The event includes more than 30 performers engaging in a lion dance, dragon dance, drum performance, kung fu demonstration and a parade throughout the center court on Level 1.
Close out the holiday on Feb. 8 at Legacy Hall in Plano for the 1st Annual Chinese New Year Celebration. Catch over a dozen authentic Chinese acts including traditional and folk dance groups, a Kung Fu demonstration, and Lion Dancers. And, Chef Willy of Beijing Brothers will be on hand demonstrating his noodle-making skills throughout the day.
There’s more than one rodent celebrating this week. That’s because Sunday is Groundhog Day. Now, you might think Punxsutawney Phil is the only groundhog with winter weather forecasts, but as luck would have it, Arboretum Annie (also a groundhog) will be giving out her own meteorological outlook bright and early this Sunday morning at the Dallas Arboretum. Besides finding out whether or not winter is sticking around from their resident groundhog, the Arboretum is offering a fun day of fun starting off with complimentary coffee or hot chocolate and breakfast food vendors. Later, catch a screening of the holiday classic “Groundhog Day.”
This last event has nothing to do with Lunar New Year or rodents of any variety, but I would be completely remiss if I didn’t mention Irving’s annual Frost Fest at Cimarron Park. This free winter festival is your big chance to frolic in the (rarely seen) snow. You and your snow bunnies indulge in fun activities like tubing on a real snow hill, a play area with fresh snow every 30 minutes, and train rides. If you get chilly, head inside Cimarron Park Recreation Center and the Irving Public Library where you can sign up for a library card, do a winter craft, listen to a story or see a puppet show.
For even more Chinese New Year and kid-friendly events, explore the Kids & Family section of the Art&Seek calendar.