in anticipation of the lunar new year

The lunar new year is approaching and various peoples are preparing for it.  The lunar new year is celebrated by the Chinese, the Vietnamese, Koreans, and Tibetans.  The date of the lunar new year varies year to year with the cycles of the moon.  For 2014, January 31 is the New Year for these peoples.  The celebrations and family activities include banquets and meals with various prepared dishes and foods, street parades (with musical bands, lion dancers and fire crackers), the exchanging of gifts, and visits to cemeteries to pay respects to relatives who have passed on.  (In San Francisco, there is also an annual beauty pageant that takes place during the 2 weeks of festivities.  I think it is called Miss Chinatown USA and there are contestants from as far away as New York and Honolulu.)

Our intrepid photographer was in San Francisco’s Chinatown this past Sunday and took these pictures.  There is no heavy metaphysical or philosophical meaning here, just a slice of life to be enjoyed for what it is.





This next picture shows the deep blue winter sky.  The western most states of the US are currently experiencing a drought.


SF street scene


A street scene in Chinatown.  The streets are narrow and finding parking is like trying to win the lottery – nearly impossible.  The best way to visit and enjoy this area is on foot.  The Transamerica Pyramid is glimpsed above the brownstone buildings.  For the brisk walkers, one can visit and quickly shop for a few items in Chinatown during one’s lunch hour if one works in the financial district.  (I used to run there on lunch hour to buy various teas.)


street scene 2


This picture shows the contrast between the 2 sides of the street.  The side in shadow can be cool on a January day, while the sunlit side can be warm.  A person has a choice to wear their coat or carry it if they prefer the sun.


Lucy in shadow


Produce for sale along the crowded sidewalk early in the day.


street scene


Open air markets.


open air market


Fortune cookies are made locally and it can be difficult work rolling or shaping them by hand.  Perhaps these days, the cookies are made by machine.


fortune cookie


Various decorations for the new year.  Red is an important color in new year celebrations and is featured prominently on banners and posters.




Here we see a Chinese calendar with daily horoscope for reference throughout the year. The female figure pictured may be the goddess of fortune, Kuan Yin.


New Year's item


Envelopes for “lucky” money.  Friends and relatives exchange envelopes containing paper currency for good luck.  Usually one dollar bills are used, but sometimes 5 or ten dollar bills are given by family members.  New currency is a must here.  People visit local banks and obtain new one dollar bills in hundred count packs.


New Years envelopes


More such envelopes.


more red envelopes


Another grocery market scene.


grocery store


2 kinds of sugar cane for purchase.


sugar cane


Dried mushrooms.


dry mushrooms




egg plants


Water chestnuts.


water chestnut


Lotus root.  Not familiar with this, perhaps it is good for “men’s health”?


lotus root


Bitter melon.


bitter melon


Here we see ponelo (not sure of the spelling) – a Chinese grapefruit.




Oranges.  Often times, slices of oranges are served with (or as) desert after a Chinese meal.








Daikon?  Not sure what this is, but it looks to be from the potato family.




Sweet potatoes or yams.


sweet potatoes






Yes, we wish all readers a happy, safe, and prosperous lunar new year.