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Best time to go to Boston

Chinese New Year 2023

Boston's large Chinese community shows off colorful traditions and delicious food

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Boston has the third largest Chinese community in the U.S., and the Chinese Near Year celebration here is one of the biggest in the Northeast. Thousands of visitors flock to Boston's Chinatown and Theater District to view lion dancers, accompanied by drums, cymbals, and firecrackers. It's also a chance to try other great food besides Chinese food.

The major highlight of the celebration is Boston's annual Chinese New Year Parade that takes place in Chinatown. It usually takes place on the second Sunday at about 11 am, right after the beginning of Chinese New Year. The route goes around Kneeland Street, Essex Street, and Harrison Ave. Usually, the parade includes a dragon dance, and there are also a couple of "lions," a Buddha, and music bands with gongs and drums to set the rhythm. Smaller Lion dances occur during and after the parade in multiple locations. Performers are going through local businesses in Chinatown collecting red envelopes with cash. Restaurant owners also place offerings—cabbages and oranges—in front of the door for the dancers.

Many Cantonese people were the first Asian settlers of Boston in the 1870s. Therefore the celebration and costumes at the Boston parade mainly reflect Cantonese traditions. During the Lunar New Year Celebrations, restaurants offer special meals with dishes that are supposed to bring good luck in the New Year.

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