Today, Jan. 23 marks the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year and 2012 is the Year of the Dragon.
There are celebrations throughout New York's Chinatown today, in particular the Firecracker ceremony in Roosevelt Park. There, firecrackers are set off in hopes of warding away evil spirits in the new year.
But the big Chinese new year parade will be Sunday, Jan. 29. On that date, thousands will converge on Canal Street for the floats and festivities, which run from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
The Year of the Dragon could bring a baby boom within New York's Chinese community, as couples try to time their children's births with the lucky symbol. The dragon is said to bring health, wealth and courage in Chinese culture. A Downtown Hospital nurse told DNAinfo she expects to see a 25 percent increase in births during the Year of the Dragon.
And there is also a push to make the Chinese new year a public holiday and give New York City children the day off from public school. Nearly 15 percent of students in the city's public school system are Asian-American.
The push is backed by State Senator Daniel Squadron, who represents Chinatown and Assemblywoman Grace Meng, who represents Flushing.