It's safe to say pigs get a pretty bad rap in Western culture, but followers of the Chinese zodiac are looking ahead to a lucky and prosperous 2019 in the Year of the Pig.
"There's a lot of misconceptions that the pig is not smart," said Harlan Wong, director of the San Francisco Chinese Chamber of Commerce. "But actually, it's the other way around. The pig is known to be a very smart animal. And this year, the pig is going to bring a lot of happiness and prosperity to Chinatown and the world."
Wong was joined by Mayor London Breed, state Sen. Scott Wiener, Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee at a ribbon-cutting ceremony to kick off Lunar New Year on Saturday in San Francisco's Chinatown. The event included a procession that wound through part of the annual Chinese New Year Flower Market Fair, dance performances and musical acts.
Lunar New Year technically begins on Feb. 5, and celebratory events will be taking place all month long throughout the Bay Area. Scroll past the photos for a list of some of the bigger events being held this month.
How to Celebrate Lunar New Year in the Bay Area
San Francisco's Chinese New Year Festival and Parade bills itself as the "largest celebration of Asian culture outside of Asia." It includes events throughout February:
- Chinese New Year Flower Market Fair: A chance to purchase flowers to decorate your home ahead of the Lunar New Year; Saturday, Feb. 2, 10 a.m.–8 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 3, 9 a.m.–6 p.m.
- Basketball Jamboree: A youth basketball tournament started 25 years ago by a retired San Francisco middle school principal; Saturday, Feb. 9
- Choy Sun Doe: Choy Sun or Caishen is the Chinese god of wealth. At this event, 100 Choy Suns will pass out thousands of red envelopes known as "lai sees" to children. All of the envelopes will include a gold chocolate coin, and some will include money or gift certificates; Saturday, Feb. 24, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
- Miss Chinatown USA Pageant: The annual competition features entrants from across the United States; Saturday, Feb. 16, 7:30 p.m.
- Chinese New Year Community Street Fair: A street fair featuring more than 100 booths and performances; Saturday, Feb. 23, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 24, 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
- Chinese New Year Parade: The annual televised parade dates back to the 1860s; Saturday, Feb. 23, 5:15 p.m.
Bay Area Bites has a handy guide for Bay Area restaurant and pop-up events serving up special menus for the Lunar New Year.