For many, New Years has come and gone with resolutions already discarded as we return to our routines. However, the Lunar New Year actually begins this weekend and locals have another chance to restart their year.

Unlike the Western calendar, the Lunar New year is based on the moon. The date varies year to year and usually falls between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20. This year the celebration begins on Feb. 16.

Sometimes referred to as the Chinese New Year, the Lunar cycle includes a 12-year zodiac with each year named after an animal. Individuals born that year are said to inherit traits associated with the zodiac animal of that year. 2018 will be the Year of the Dog. In addition to the animal, there’s a “heavenly branch” that corresponds to an element. 2018 will specifically be the Earth Dog. Those born this year are said to be communicative, serious, and responsible in work.

Zhang Ping, Consul General in Los Angeles issued a statement on the celebrations.

“The Lunar New Year, or the Spring Festival, is the most important traditional festival for Chinese people,” he said. “It bears our aspirations for a better life and pursuit for harmony, reunion, happiness, peace and prosperity. These values that are embedded in the Chinese culture are well received throughout the world and the Spring Festival has become a much celebrated event in many countries.”

Locally, Santa Monica Place will host a Lunar New Year celebration on Saturday, Feb 17 from 2 – 6 p.m.

“Hosted by Katherine Ho from The Voice on NBC, celebrations will include authentic cultural performances and activities such as the traditional Chinese dragon dance, Korean fan dance, stilt walkers, classical folk music from a Chinese musical duo, New Year’s Wishing Trees and family-friendly arts and crafts for all to enjoy,” said the mall in a statement.

“Patrons are invited to hang a wish on the branches of the two New Year’s Wishing Trees for a two-dollar donation. The proceeds will benefit Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA) at UCLA. CSSA-UCLA is an officially registered on-campus organization devoted to organizing activities for Chinese student groups and promoting traditional Chinese culture on the UCLA campus.”

The free event includes Chinese Music Duo, Stilt Walkers, Traditional Dough Artist, Balloon Twister, Arts/Crafts and Wishing Trees. There will be a Korean Fan Dance at 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. and a Chinese Dragon Dance between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.

“The Dragon Dance is the big headliner, it’s really awesome,” said Stephanie H. Eglin, the Mall’s Senior Manager Marketing.

She said the Korean Fan Dancers are also a big draw.

“We work really hard to get the most authentic talent for this event and the Dragon Dance is the big movement. People really love the dough artist, they line up for this, they really love it.”

Eglin said the mall has a history of hosting the event.

“It’s a cultural event and we’ve been hosting Lunar New Years at Santa Monica Place for several years,” she said.

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