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A Foodie’s Guide to Chinese / Vietnamese Lunar New Year Celebrations in Orlando – 2023 Year of the Rabbit!

It’s one of my favorite times of the year, not just for the festivities but also for the great food that goes along with the holiday celebrations.

I remember gathering around at home growing up with my uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandma around the family dinner table having a huge feast, praying to our ancestors and the gods for a lucky and healthy new year. My favorite dishes were the fried egg rolls and roasted duck, Hakka style, filled with Chinese spices, herbs and wild mushrooms.

This year the Chinese/Vietnamese Lunar New Year’s Official Date is Sunday January 22 – but the celebrations begin much earlier and last almost all month.

This is the year of the Rabbit and known to be full of “mercy, elegance, and beauty. People who are born in the year of the rabbit are calm and peaceful

Luckily for us here in the Central Florida community, we are home to the largest ethnic enclaves of Asian Americans in the entire state, particularly around the Mills 50 district with shops, restaurants, and markets all getting ready to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

Entrance to the Festival

Lunar New Year Traditions
  • Eating dinner together as a family – people journey from wherever they are, to come home and have dinner. Every year this time marks the largest mass migration of people when workers in the cities travel home to their home villages to visit their families again.
  • Giving/Recieving Red Envelopes – filled with lucky money from elders to the young. Asian culture is big on karma so want to start off the year doing good things for others and hope for good things to happen to you in return later in the year. Universal balance.
  • Clean the house before the new year start the year new, and pay off all your debts
  • Big parades with lots of firecrackers. The loud noise “scares” away any evil spirits so you can start off the new year fresh.
  • On the day of Lunar New Year – if you have lunch in the Mills 50 area, you will see the Wah Lum Kung Fu Lion Dance team “blessing” each business with their lion dance and lots of loud fire works. Great for photography!

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What to Order – Traditional Chinese Dishes for New Years

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Eat
  • Noodles – The longer, the better – the noodles represent longevity and long life
  • Dumplings – They are shaped like little gold nuggets, symbols for good fortune and wealth
  • Fish – The word “yu” sounds like “abundance” in Chinese, so your new year will be abundant with good luck – eat whole fish so that your whole year is full of good luck
  • Fried Spring Rolls – The name also sounds like “good fortune” in Chinese, eat it for a lucky new year
  • Oranges are also plentiful during new years because the name and look of the orange is similar to gold. So giving oranges as a gift is also quite common, as it the giver is seen as wishing prosperity on the receivers.
  • Vietnamese Banh Tet – Bánh tét is a Vietnamese savoury but sometimes sweetened cake made primarily from glutinous rice, which is rolled in a banana leaf into a thick, log-like cylindrical shape, with mung bean or mung bean and pork fillings, then boiled. It is a must have traditional food in Vietnamese Lunar New Year. It demonstrates the importance of rice in the Vietnamese culture as well as historical value. During Vietnamese Tét, family members would gather together and enjoy feasting on bánh tét, the central food of this festive Vietnamese holiday to celebrate the coming of spring.
  • Rolls of banh tet, kind of like Christmas yuletide logs, but with sticky rice and beans to celebrate the new year

Say Happy New Year!

  • Vietnamese – Chuc Mung Nam Moi
  • Cantonese – Sun Lien Fai Lok
    or Gung Hay Fat Choi (Literally : Congratulations on your Prosperity – have a prosperous new year)
  • Mandarin – Xin Nian Kuai Le

Places to Celebrate Lunar New Year in Orlando:

Local Orlando Restaurants:

    • YH Seafood Clubhouse – Cantonese / Seafood / Dim Sum fine dining
      8081 Turkey Lake Rd #700, Orlando, FL 32819 – Phone: (407) 440-4979
    • East Garden – Chinese Dim Sum and Cantonese Cuisine
      5136 W Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32808 – Phone: (407) 203-6001
    • Ming Bistro – Chinese Dim Sum – Great for Families/Friends/Groups
      1212 Woodward Street #6, Orlando, FL (407) 898-9672
    • Taste of Chengdu – Authentic Sichuan Chinese
      2030 W Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32804, Phone: (407) 839-1983
      4856 New Broad St, Orlando, FL 32814, Phone: (407) 286-4850
    • Chuan Lu Garden – Authentic Sichuan cuisine 
      1101 East Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL – (407) 896-8966
    • Tasty Wok – Chinese street food / barbecue and noodles
      1237 East Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL  (407) 896-8988
    • Mr. J’s Hand Pulled Noodles
      1688 E Silver Star Rd, Ocoee, FL 34761, Phone: (407) 930-6699
    • Golden Lotus Chinese – Dim sum and traditional Chinese cuisine
      8365 South John Young Parkway, Orlando, FL (407) 352-3832

Local Markets – Pick up New Year goodies

  • New Golden Sparkling Super Market – West Orlando
    5600 W Colonial Dr #306, Orlando, FL 32808, Phone: (407) 730-3936
  • Mei’s Super Market- East Orlando
    10681 E Colonial Dr, Union Park, FL 32817, Phone: (689) 208-1888
  • Dong A Asian Market
    816 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803, Phone: (407) 898-9227
  • Eastside Asian Market
    12950 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL 32826, Phone: (407) 615-8881
  • Saigon Market
    1232 East Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, United States
    (407) 898-6899
  • Tien Hung Market
    1112 East Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, United States
    (407) 849-0205 http://tienhungmarket.com/
  • Enson Market
    5132 West Colonial Drive, Orlando, FL 32808, United States
    (407) 292-3668

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Lunar New Year Festivals/Events

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Vietnamese Community of Central Florida Vietnamese Lunar New Year 2023 Celebration

January 20 @ 10:00 am – January 22 @ 5:30 pm

Central Florida Fairgrounds 4603 W. Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL

CAACF Chinese New Year Celebration 2023 – Orlando

January 21 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Chuan Lu Garden  1101 E. Colonial Dr., Orlando, FL

Mei’s Supermarket Lunar New Year Celebration 2023

January 22 @ 2:00 am – 3:30 pm

30th Annual Central Florida Vietnamese Lunar New Year

January 28 @ 10:00 am – January 29 @ 5:00 pm

Central Florida Fairgrounds 4603 W. Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL

Orange County Library System (FL) Chinese New Year Celebration

January 29 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Celebrate Lunar – Lake Nona

February 4 @ 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm

$10 – $20

11th Annual Central Florida Dragon Parade Lunar New Year

February 5 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Avalon SpringFest 2023 – Lunar New Year Festival


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