To us Westerners, being called a rat or being associated with a rat isn’t necessarily a good thing. However, in 2020, it’s cause for celebration! Before we begin to discuss Chinese New Year and what being in New York means, we had to understand why the rat. 

We found out that the Rat is the first of all zodiac animals. Apparently, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived at his party. The Rat tricked the Ox into giving him a ride. Then, just as they arrived at the finish line, Rat jumped down and landed ahead of Ox, becoming first. The Rat is also associated with the Earthly Branch (地支—dì zhī) Zi (子) and the midnight hours. In the terms of yin and yang (阴阳—yīn yáng), the Rat is yang and represents the beginning of a new day. In Chinese culture, rats were seen as a sign of wealth and surplus. Because of their reproduction rate, married couples also prayed to them for children.

Thank you, Google. As you already know, being in New York gives us access to cultures and events that people travel the world for. Here, all we have to do is pony up $2.75 to the MTA and we’re on our way.  While the big celebration and parade doesn’t happen until February 9th, the party certainly kicks off this weekend. 

Check out Chinatown’s annual Lunar New Year celebration for performances, bites and things you only get to see this time of the year. What is certainly a party on the streets will feature loads of vendors, food and festivities for all to welcome the Year of the Rat. Again, this is a good thing!  A Firecracker Ceremony and Cultural Festival takes place on January 25, the first day of the Lunar New Year which all goes down at 11am, with the fireworks scheduled for noon. We should also add that being in New York, Chinatown Manhattan isn’t the only place this all goes down! Lunar New Year events will also be taking place in the other Chinatowns around New York City including Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and Flushing, Queens.

For more information and specific events, visit

Happy New Year!