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David Lissner
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Happy Chinese New Year, Chicago!

Year of the Rabbit

Year of the Rabbit

Gung hay fat choy! The Asian Lunar New Year, 4709, The Year of the Rabbit, hops into Chicago this week with firecackers, parades, traditional dragon parades and lion dances.

Local restaurants will offer symbolic dishes, including half-moon-shaped dumplings, long noodles, whole fish and glutinous rice cakes.

Most often hailed as Chinese New Year in America, the holiday is also celebrated as Tet by Vietnamese and Seollal by Koreans.

The traditional Chinese new year greeting translates as “Wishing you prosperity.” Koreans say, “Please receive many new year’s blessings.” The Vietnamese is more literally “Happy new year.” Here’s how to say it:

  • Cantonese: Gung hay fat choy.
  • Mandarin: Gong shee fa tsai.
  • Korean: Say hay boke-mahn he pah du say oh.
  • Vietnamese: Chuc mung nam mouri.

Chicago Chinese New Year Events

  • Lunar New Year Parade, Uptown, noon Saturday, Feb. 5, free.

    Floats, lion and dragon dance teams and a high school marching band feature in the North Side celebration, which begins with a social hour from noon to 1 p.m. at the Hip Sing Reception Hall, 1121 W. Argyle St. The parade starts at 1 p.m., heading east on Argyle Street from Broadway, snaking right on Sheridan, right on Lawrence, and right again on Broadway, and ending at the Hip Sing Association.

  • 2011 Lunar New Year Parade, Chinatown, 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 6, free.

    A parade of marching bands, floats, lion dancers, and 100-foot Mystical Dragon feature in Chinatown’s annual celebration, along with a variety of other activities. This year marks the marks the 99th anniversary of Chicago’s Chinatown. The parade steps off at 1 p.m. down Wentworth Avenue.

  • Koi Chinese New Year Celebration, Evanston, 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5.

    Traditional Chinese lion dancers perform and an a la carte menu of symbolic dishes such as lychee chicken for prosperity and lucky seafood pan-fried noodles features. The special menu continues through Feb. 13.

  • Chens Chinese and Sushi Chinese New Year Celebration, Wrigleyville, 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 5.

    Traditional Chinese lion dancers perform, with an a la carte menu of symbolic, lucky dishes such as Dragon and Phoenix, crispy chicken covered in tangy sweet and spicy pepper sauce with shrimp sauteed with vegetables in white wine sauce. The special menu continues through Feb. 13.

  • Ben Pao Chinese New Year, River North, through Feb. 13.

    A traditional Chinese New Year menu features daily with a la carte dishes such as xiao long bao (traditional dumplings with broth inside); long life noodles with char siu pork, and hot-and-sour whole crispy fish . At 6:30 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday, Feb. 5, traditional Chinese lion dancers perform.

  • Big Bowl New Year Celebration,Gold Coast, River North, Lincolnshire and Schaumburg, through Feb. 5.

    Throughout the celebration, Big Bowl serves a menu of Year of the Rabbit dishes, including tea-smoked rabbit lettuce wraps, crab wonton and barbecue rabbit soup and long life noodles with Sichuan rabbit and chive blossoms, and Big Bowl will donate a portion of sales from its blood-orange infused house-made ginger ale to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Tomorrow, diners will guests receive a hong bao (lucky red envelope) containing a gift certificate for $10 or $25 to Big Bowl, or a card for a complimentary Big Bowl item, with a crisp $1 bill for kids. At 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 5, the Cedar Street and Lincolnshire locations offer a free dumpling-making class; reservations required.