Utah groups, businesses mark Lunar New Year and the start of the year of the dragon

Saturday is the Lunar New Year and marks the start of the year of the dragon. The dragon image, photographed Friday is located at Ocean Mart in Ogden, which is planning activities to mark the day.

Saturday is the Lunar New Year and marks the start of the year of the dragon. The dragon image, photographed Friday is located at Ocean Mart in Ogden, which is planning activities to mark the day. (Tim Vandenack, KSL.com)


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OGDEN — Get ready for the year of the dragon.

Saturday is the Lunar New Year, also known as the Chinese New Year, which marks the start of the year of the dragon and the end of the year of the rabbit, according to the 12-year Chinese zodiac calendar.

"It's very important in China. It's the biggest holiday," said Yu Li Lin, head of the Utah Chinese New Year Celebration Committee, which held its annual celebration event on Feb. 3. In China, the family reunions and other celebrations typically last 15 days.

Saturday is the Lunar New Year and marks the start of the year of the dragon. The dragon figure, photographed Friday, is located at Ocean Mart in Ogden, which is planning activities to mark the day.
Saturday is the Lunar New Year and marks the start of the year of the dragon. The dragon figure, photographed Friday, is located at Ocean Mart in Ogden, which is planning activities to mark the day. (Photo: Tim Vandenack, KSL.com)

"It's like American Christmas," said Emily Khet, who's of Thai descent and works at Ocean Mart in Ogden, an Asian market.

The celebrating doesn't last as long in the United States as the extended 15-day holiday in China. And though the Utah Chinese New Year Celebration Committee program has come and gone, there are other activities across the Wasatch Front. Here are some of them:

  • The Utah Chinese Association is hosting a Lunar New Year celebration on Saturday from 11 a.m. until about 5 p.m. at the Salt Lake County South Building, 2001 S. State in Salt Lake City.
  • We Geek Together, The Nerdy Wolf and Drawn to Dragons are helping organize Lunar New Year activities on Friday from 3-9 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. at Provo Towne Center, 1200 Towne Center Blvd. in Provo.
  • Ocean Mart locations in Ogden and Sandy are hosting public events on Saturday. At Ocean Mart in Ogden, activities at the locale at 1018 Washington Blvd. go from noon until around 7 p.m., when a fireworks display is planned. Activities at Ocean Mart at the Sandy location at 115 W. 9000 South start at 1 p.m. A lion dance, a Lunar New Year tradition, will be held at 4 p.m. at the Ogden store.

Lin said the Lunar New Year serves as a time for families to get together. The dragon, she said, represents good luck and prosperity.

Harris Nydegger of Ocean Mart remembers the celebrations when he lived in Taiwan. Commercial activity would typically slow down for the 15 days of the New Year activities.

The Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art website says the Lunar New Year marks the arrival of spring.

"It is the most important holiday in China, and it is also widely celebrated in South Korea, Vietnam and countries with a significant overseas Chinese population," reads the Smithsonian website. "At home, families decorate windows with red paper cuttings and adorn doors with couplets expressing auspicious wishes for the new year."

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Tim Vandenack covers immigration, multicultural issues and Northern Utah for KSL.com. He worked several years for the Standard-Examiner in Ogden and has lived and reported in Mexico, Chile and along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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