D.C. Celebrates Chinese Year of the Rat (photos)

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The Three Princes from Chinese mythology. Photo by Jeff Malet.

Crowds lined the streets surrounding the Chinatown neighborhood in Washington, D.C., to usher in the Year of the Rat at the Chinese Lunar New Year Parade on Sunday, January 26. The parade, which featured traditional lion dancers, firecrackers, beauty pageant winners and community groups, was once again organized by the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, an umbrella group of Chinese American organizations.

Chinese New Year is the Chinese festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar. The first day of Chinese New Year begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice which occurs sometime between January 21 and February 20. In Chinese astrology, each year is related to a Chinese zodiac animal according to a 12-year cycle.

The Rat is the first in the 12-year-cycle of Chinese zodiac signs, suggesting that a Rat year is a year of renewal. People born in the year of the rat are generally born with the zodiac rat characteristics. They are believed to be very industrious and thrifty, diligent and positive, can deal carefully with money, and have good financial luck. You are a “Rat” if you were born in the year 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008 and of course 2020.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and a delegation of local politicians led the parade, joined by Ambassador Stanley Kao of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO). They were accompanied by Alfred Liu, Chairman of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association.

105 year old Chinese Youth Club (CYC) co-founder Art Ping Lee took his usual seat of honor accompanied by three beauty queens in a horse drawn carriage. The CYC has served the Asian comminity in the Greater Washington D.C. area since 1936.

Garry Goon of On Leong Tong (Chinese Merchant Association) marched with several of his grandchildren. It was his 55th parade. “Its a much bigger parade now” said Garry. “Before it was just a little community thing for Chinese people. Now it’s a Washington event.”

View Jeff Malet’s photos from the 2020 Chinese Lunar New Year Parade in Washington, D.C., by clicking on the photo icons below.

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