About Chinese New Year

The San Diego Chinese New Year Fair is a two-day event showcasing exciting performances, Asian art and culture, an array of delicious Chinese and Asian food, and much more.  The event is free to the public and a popular destination for families and audience of all ages as they experience and celebrate the Lunar New Year, which typically occurs in Jan or Feb of each year.

The Fair is the largest event in San Diego County to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year. Last year, over 25,000 people joined in the annual celebration.  There were over 50 food and commercial booths with continuous live performances on stage, lion and dragon dancers, an Asian Story Theater, cultural displays, and educational crafts at the children area.

Two thousand eighteen (2018) marks the 36th year for the Fair, which takes place in the old Chinatown of San Diego, now known as the Asian Thematic District.  The event was originally developed by the Chinese Social Service Center, which later changed its name to the San Diego Chinese Center (SDCC).  Through recent collaboration, the Fair has now transitioned to the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) of San Diego.

As the oldest Chinese community organization, CCBA’s purpose is to provide charitable and benevolent activities, social welfare, and preserve the culture and traditions of Chinese people.  In addition to providing cultural and educational programs, CCBA’s Lucky Lion Dancers is the premier choice for many lion dance performances to help celebrate holidays, weddings, grand openings and other special occasions.  For more info, please visit www.ccbasd.org and www.luckyliondancers.net

The fair will be coordinated by Silk Road Productions, known for the Asian Cultural Festival and other large festivals and events. The Chinese New Year Fair will take place in down town San Diego, on Third Avenue and J Street!  Click on the map below to see the exact location as well as to map it from your location!

The Chinese New Year Fair will take place in down town San Diego, on Third Avenue and J Street!  Click on the map below to see the exact location as well as to map it from your location!

Follow and like us on facebook at www.facebook.com/SDChineseNewYearFair


About the Chinese Zodiac

Traditionally, the Chinese Lunar New Year begins with the sighting of the new moon. It is a two-week spring festival celebrated for over 5,000 years in China. According to legend, the Lord Buddha called all the animals to him before he departed from Earth. Only 12 animals came and as reward, he named a year after each of them in the order that they arrived:

Rat – Ox – Tiger – Rabbit- Dragon – Snake

Horse – Goat – Monkey – Rooster – Dog – Pig




The Chinese Zodiac Legend

The Jade Emperor (The Emperor in Heaven in Chinese folklore) ordered that animals would be designated as calendar signs and the twelve that arrived first would be selected. At that time, the cat and the rat were good friends and neighbors. When they heard of this news, the cat said to the rat: ‘We should arrive early to sign up, but I usually get up late.’

The rat then promised to awaken his friend and go together. However, on the morning when he got up, he was too excited to recall his promise, and went directly to the gathering place. On the way, he encountered the tiger, ox, horse, and other animals that ran much faster. In order not to fall behind them, he thought up a good idea. He made the straightforward ox carry him on condition that he sang for the ox. At last, the ox and him arrived first.

The ox was happy thinking that he would be the first sign of the years, but the rat had already slid in front, and became the first lucky animal of the Chinese zodiac. Meanwhile his neighbor the cat was too late so when it finally arrived, the selection was over. That’s why other animals appear behind the little rat and why the cat hates the rat so much that every time they meet, the cat will chase and kill it. About this simple story, there are different editions.

Some say it was the Yellow Emperor who intended to select twelve guards. It is also said that cat hope rat could get there early and sign up on behalf, but rat completely forgot it or do that intentionally. Some say the animals were request to have a swimming race, or a simple race. Elephant was said to participate in the race too, but run away finally because rat got into it trunk.



The new year marks a new beginning where grudges are put aside and accounts settled. People wear new clothes, clean their homes to sweep away all traces of bad luck from the previous year, and cook enormous feasts. People also buy oranges and other fruit to symbolize prosperity and good fortune. One of our favorite traditions is that children receive “lai see,” lucky money in red envelopes.

Things that symbolize Chinese New Year:

  • Lion Dance: Performed at New Year and other festivals, they are thought to scare away the bad luck. Two people are usually required to perform in the lion. It requires martial arts skills and hard practice.
  • Firecrackers: Strings of firecrackers are set off to keep away the evil spirits.
  • Drummers: Like the firecrackers, the drumming is supposed to keep away the evil spirits.
  • Tangerines: A symbol of good luck for the New Year that is meant to be displayed and given as gifts. The word for tangerine in Chinese sounds like “luck.”
  • Colorful lanterns: Coinciding with the full moon, the Lantern Festival marks the end of the two-week New Year period. Lanterns can be auspicious characters or be in animal shapes.