Lai see is often gifted on Chinese New Year to bring good luck to the recipient. (Photo by Cameron Enomoto)

By Cameron Enomoto | Staff Writer

Kung Hee Fat Choy! The new year is typically celebrated on Jan. 1, though the Chinese New Year follows the lunar calendar to mark the day of celebration. This year, the date falls on Sunday, Jan. 22, and it’s the year of the rabbit.

Each of the 12 zodiacs has unique characteristics and the order in which they rotate is based on “The Heavenly Gate Race.” While the story varies depending on who tells it, most of the details are the same. The story begins when the Jade Emperor, a highly revered god in traditional Chinese religion, organized a race and invited animals across the world to participate. The emperor declared that each of the 12 animals who came to the race would have a year named after them and the order in which they crossed the finish line would determine their rotation.

The rabbit was the fourth to finish in the race and is a sign of peace, longevity, and prosperity, People born in the year of the rabbit are said to be vigilant, witty, and high-spirited. To find out your Chinese zodiac, use this website and input your birthday.

The Year of the Rabbit. (Photo by Kapi’o Staff)

Chinese New Year celebrations are taken seriously, and there are various methods people follow that are said to bring in good luck. Opening windows and doors is said to welcome positive energy and eating sweet foods is recommended so that the consumer will have a sweet year. More commonly, people gift lai see (Cantonese)/hong bao (Mandarin), or red envelopes. These often contain money and are meant to wish the recipient good luck. When gifting red envelopes to elders, it is interpreted as a sign of respect.

Here are some of the festivities taking place on Oʻahu that you can participate in to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Ala Moana Center (Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m; and Sunday 3 p.m.): Shoppers are invited to celebrate Chinese New Year with family-friendly activities like Chinese calligraphy demonstrations and lion dancing. Guests can receive a limited-edition Year of the Rabbit 10-ounce stoneware mug with a bamboo lid plus a sweet treat from Meet Fresh with $150 in Ala Moana Center receipts. Guests must redeem their receipts at Guest Services – Street Level 1, Center Court, behind Centerstage.

Ward Village (Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.): Participating retailers at Ward Village will be handing out red envelopes for good luck while supplies last. There will be lucky lion photo opportunities and a special event with an on-site calligraphy artist. Guests can enjoy festive lanterns hung at Victoria Ward Park along with lion dances throughout the day.

Royal Hawaiian Center (Sunday, Jan. 22, through Sunday, Feb. 5): Chinese New Year festivities will take place over two weeks with a variety of cultural activities and the chance to get a special gift with mall purchases. Lion dances will happen on Jan. 22, Jan. 29, and Feb. 5. On Saturday, Jan. 28, guests can take home a handwritten blessing written in Chinese calligraphy.

International Marketplace (Sunday 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.): International Marketplace shoppers will have the chance to explore special promotions for retail and dining while watching lion dances and receiving a free, hand-painted calligraphy gift. Lion dance performances will be followed by an educational presentation in Queen’s Court.