Stockton is culturally diverse. Beautifully and deliciously so! The impending Chinese and Vietnamese New Years are a perfect indicator of this fact. A lunar celebration – parade and feasts will take place within two months of the Western Gregorian/solar calendar. More reasons for merriment and festivities I always say. Can’t get enough of a good thing.
In the Vietnamese tradition, 2015 is the Year of the Goat – one of the 12 Eastern zodiac animals. The Vietnamese zodiac also incorporates five elements: Metal, Wood, Wind, Water, Fire and Earth. The coming celebration is actually “Ất Mùi” which means Wood Goat
People born under the sign of “goat” are said to be hard-working and determined. I’m not sure if the owners of Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant are born under this sign, but they are incredibly hard-working and determined. There’s a wonderful “My Stockton” story that supports that thought, but for now the focus is the upcoming Tet – Vietnamese Lunar New Year.
Saigon Vietnamese Restaurant has a long history on Pacific Avenue. The current owners took over in 2001. Annually, Saigon Vietnamese celebrates with a prix fixe dinner and lots of traditional fanfare. Firecrackers, martial arts demonstrations, dragon dancers, friends and family pack the restaurant, and Belly Buddha another good luck sign, he’s always laughing.
Chúc Mừng Nǎm Mới The restaurant's celebration is February 21st – reservations should be made ASAP for the $36 per-person party – it’s nearly sold out! Appetizers, salad, special New Year’s eggroll, Nem a traditional Vietnamese sausage just for the celebration, and dessert – of course!
恭禧發財Following close on its heels, Stockton’s 37th Annual Chinese New Year Celebration March 1, 2015; 11am to 5:30pm marks the Year of the Ram. A great community and cultural event it attracts more than 3,000 attendees. City-sponsored, this one-day parade and festival is family-friendly and it’s all FREE! The parade begins at 10:00am rain or shine! You don’t want to miss the Lion Dance Troupes!
The festival at Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium features continuous stage entertainment from 11:30am to 3:30pm and includes the Stockton Chinese Ladies Dance Troupe, Bayland Dancing, Capitol Chinese Orchestra and the Stockton Bukkyo Taiko Group. This year’s festival features a KidZone with carnival games and Paul Buethe “The Yo-yo Man” – he’s very cool and Uber across the pond, so I'm told! Not to be forgotten, lots of food – chow mein, sweet & sour pork, Dim Sum, sesame balls and the usual festival food – come famished.
Proceeds from the festival benefit cultural programs and scholarships for local youth through the Chinese Cultural Society of Stockton.