New Year's Day

Free JANM Fest Welcomes the Lunar New Year

The family festival will include rice pounding, hat making, and entertainment, too.

Lunar New Year is on the near horizon, and it is romping joyfully in our direction with all of the happiness, energy, and pure gusto of a certain four-footed animal companion.


That's right, we're headed into the Year of the Dog on Feb. 16.

And woofing, er, welcoming the sweet occasion with open arms will be easy to do around Southern California in the coming weeks, thanks to a bevy of parades, ceremonies, and parties on the calendar. From Chinatown to Disneyland, festivities galore will pay bright-hearted tribute to the traditional celebration, one that's observed in a multitude of ways around Asia and beyond.

One of the first of the local festivities? It's the Oshogatsu Family Festival at the Japanese American National Museum, and it will honor the coming Lunar New Year, and all of its delightful dog-a-tude, on Sunday, Jan. 7.

The festival is free, which feels canine in spirit, given how our furry friends are famous for giving their love and loyalty so freely. It's full of activities, which, again, seems quite dog-like, as our favorite tail-waggers always seem quite busy with chewing a bone, rolling on the grass, or cuddling on a lap.

And it is for people, let it be known, though you can surely bring some of the enchanting spirit you savor during the event back to your pup at home. He'll sense you had a good time, and he'll be happy, too, in the way that dogs always are.

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On the schedule? Prepare to "(l)earn how to fold a barking paper dog" at Ruthie's Origami Corner, or create a hat that looks like a dog in a hat workshop, or make a daruma doll, which helps set new year's goals, or observe the ancient art of Mochitsuki, or rice pounding.

A lion dance, storytelling, an Asian candy sculpting demonstration, and a sampling of foods associated with the Lunar New Year are also on the roster, but there are even more to-dos beyond those.

We say it again, with enthusiasm and brightness: woof. The Year of the Dog is trotting this way, and taking a moment to bend upon a knee to greet it with hope and affection feels like a highly auspicious thing to do.

Let the delightful JANM play a part in your early celebrations, on Jan. 7 from 11 a.m. to 5 o'clock.

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