Wearing a delicate, brightly colored pink dress, a type of traditional Korean clothing called hanbok. Eating a savory bowl of rice cake soup, called tteokguk, to gain another year of age, according to Korean custom. Bowing deeply, knees on the ground, to elders to wish them a Happy New Year and show respect, a tradition called sebae. Receiving small gifts of money in return called sebae don kept in a lucky pouch, called bokjumeoni. Playing gonggi, a game of tossing and catching colorful plastic “stones,” similar to jacks. These are the fond childhood memories of my Lunar New Year celebrations growing up half Korean in Oklahoma City.  

This year, on February 10, 2024, we’re ringing in the Year of the Wood Dragon, according to the Chinese Lunar calendar. The Wood Dragon is said to symbolize strength, creativity and luck, among other bold signs of fortune.  

The Lunar New Year is one of the most important celebrations of the year for many Asians and Asian Americans, including but not limited to Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cultures. While each culture celebrates the Lunar New Year with its own traditions, for many, there are similarities. The festivities often span multiple days and include ancestral rites, traditional foods, games and monetary gifts. It is a celebration of the new and the old, by giving blessings of good fortune to come and paying respects to the past. The holiday is steeped with tradition, community and celebration.  

Also for some, like myself, the Lunar New Year is a rare, yearly opportunity to connect deeply with the historical rites and rituals of their ancestry, something that can feel pretty far removed from everyday life. Although I can’t fit into my old hanbok and no longer partake in some of the Lunar New Year traditions of my childhood as I’ve gotten older, I make sure to eat a bowl of tteokguk if I can. I’ve since enjoyed learning about and exploring ways that other cultures celebrate the Lunar New Year, and Oklahoma City is a robust city for experiencing this celebration.


Here are some of the ways you can celebrate the Lunar New Year in OKC:  

For one of the biggest and most comprehensive celebrations of the Lunar New Year in Oklahoma City, swing by the Myriad Gardens for Lunar New Year in the Gardens, in partnership with the Asian District, taking place on Saturday, February 10. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be performances, food, face painting and crafts.  

Performances on the water stage include the Golden Tiger Martial Arts, Kanpai Kapanese Taiko Drums, Moonlight Blossoms, OKC Kendo Dojo and a Lion Dance by the Hưng Việt Lion Dance Association.  

The Myriad Gardens will have a variety of food options for you to explore. For Korean food, grab a bite of Korean/Mexican fusion at Oh My Gogi or Korean barbeque in a cup at Cupbop. If you’re feeling Chinese cuisine, get some hand pulled noodles from Big Biang Theory. For Vietnamese, try chicken skewers and Viet sausage on sugarcane at Yum Yum Bites. And for desserts, indulge in Momocha for boba tea and mochi donuts or Boomtown Creamery for ice cream.  

Crafts at Lunar New Year in the Gardens include origami dragons with Zephyr Andrews, calligraphy with Japan America Society of Oklahoma, and Red Envelopes.  

If you’re looking to celebrate earlier in the month, on Saturday, January 27 from noon to 4 p.m., the Vietnamese American Community of Oklahoma is hosting the Annual Vietnamese Lunar New Year celebration, also called Tết Nguyên Đán Xuân Giáp Thìn, at the Dove Event Center. This includes food, games, dancing and singing performances including a Lion Dance, raffle tickets and prizes.

Ring in the Chinese New Year at JK by Chef King on Feb. 9 or 10. Make sure to grab a reservation here.

If you can’t make either of these events, you can stop by one of the many delicious Asian restaurants in Oklahoma City for a celebratory meal in spirit. To name a few: Golden Phoenix, Grand House Asian Bistro, Szechuan Story, Mi Xian, Hot Pot Heroes, Lido, Pho Cuong, Pho Lien Hoa, Bún Box, Lee’s Sandwiches, Seoul Pocha and Maple Korean BBQ & Hot Pot.

As the Korean greeting goes to wish someone a happy new year, or in a more literal translation, please receive lots of luck in the new year: saehae bok mani badeuseyo.