Lunar New Year is a huge event in China and other neighboring countries. But you’d be mistaken if you thought it was ignored elsewhere.
CGTN’s Phil Lavelle reports.
In California, they’re going crazy for it.
With a huge Chinese American population, plus massive Korean-American and Vietnamese-American communities in places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Orange County, this huge holiday is being celebrated and marked across the state.
Retailers are all too aware of how significant: especially those with luxury goods to sell.
In Orange County – one of the most expensive places in the U.S. to live – the upmarket South Coast Plaza just held a huge event to mark the new year with dignitaries, champagne, singers and dancers and hundreds of guests.
Similar story at the Beverly Center, an upmarket mall in Beverly Hills is teeming with designer boutiques from the likes of Louis Vuitton, Prada, and D&G. They’re a big focus for the Chinese tourists, said Susan Vance, the Center’s Marketing Director, “Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year, is a very big deal to us. We’ve been celebrating six or seven years now. About 36 percent of our customers are tourists – but the Chinese tend to spend four times that of our regular customer.
“The Chinese customers are predominantly luxury customers, so we’re very fortunate there that our luxury stores benefit from that.”
In a sign of just how important the Chinese dollar is to this place, they’ve even hired Mandarin-speaking concierges to help Chinese visitors and use WeChat to guide them around.
In fact, Chinese New Year is so huge in California, that it’s now officially a special day. Last year, then-Governor, Gerry Brown, signed a bill officially denoting it as a day of cultural significance. It doesn’t mean that Lunar New Year becomes a public holiday like Presidents Day or Columbus Day, but it does place extra emphasis on public schools and bodies to promote the holiday.
“Americans are becoming increasingly curious about China.. the Chinese phenomenon, Chinese culture,” Wenshan Jia, Professor of Communications at Chapman University in Southern California said. He explains why people seven thousand miles away – some of whom have no Chinese-American family or link to the holiday – are still intrigued and marking it.
“[It’s]because of the growing influence of China, because of globalization. And because Californians are more open-minded and because of California becoming a crossroads between the United States and China.”
And so as everyone – from the stores, to Mickey Mouse and his huge Chinese New Year parade at Disneyland – gets in on the fun, the celebrations are well underway – even miles away from China.
A new year being marked – and felt – across the world.