Photo by Guillermo Sevilla
Lunar New Year is here and celebrations are underway in San Diego County. Festivities for the holiday kicked off on February 12th to celebrate the Year of the Ox.
This year the two-week festival has changed drastically this year due to the pandemic, including in the city’s Convoy District.
Lauren Garces works with the Asian Business Association of San Diego and the Convoy District and said the pandemic is holding back full scale celebrations across the county.
“We’re having a lot of virtual Lunar New Year celebrations. So you’ll see live streams of the performances, they’ll talk about the different food, educate people on the different traditions that families have,” said Garces, the special events director for the Convoy District.
While the traditions of Lunar New Year have adapted to the new normal of physical distancing, there is another barrier for many who celebrate the holiday: A rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans during the pandemic.
Councilmember Chris Cate of District 6 said that’s further impacting businesses like those in the Convoy District.
“COVID-19, when it was just first starting and a lot of people were scared for whatever reason, they turned that fear into hate. And that’s something we were trying to avoid. And now we are seeing that again at a time of year that’s really a celebration,” Cate said.
Annual festivities for Lunar New Year usually include cleaning, cleansing, hanging banners, food preparation and traveling home to spend time with loved ones.
But with COVID-19 still raging across the globe, Garces said people should continue to support local pan-Asian businesses even after the Lunar New Year celebrations end, including those in the Convoy District.
“If we keep forgetting to support them, then these businesses may not exist going forward,” Garces said. “We have seen some small businesses in the neighborhood close down unfortunately just due to so many challenges that they are having to go through and adapt to.”
Garces said the Year of the Ox is built on determination, honesty and resilience — traits she anticipates people will look to for hope during the upcoming year as the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
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