On the Chinese calendar the Year of the Rat will begin on Sunday January 25th.   The best place to celebrate the Year of the Rat is in Chinatown, which has the largest Chinese New Year’s celebration outside of Asia.  The live music and entertainment at the parade is truly a cultural gem.  One of the best parts of the parade are those colorful dragons. The favorite sign of the Chinese zodiac is the dragon                                                                                                                                             

There is no doubt that one of the best times to visit Chinatown is on the Chinese New Year, but a trip to Chinatown is interesting the entire year.  At Canal Street you will see street vendors selling perfumes, watches, handbags as well as other hard to find items.                                                                                                                                    

Chinatown has a variety of restaurants suitable for those who have a palate for Asian food.  No matter whether your preference is fish eat or vegan, you will savor every dish of Chinese food with its rich flavor and variety.  Hop Lee is a Chinese restaurant that is famous for its lobster with white wine sauce among any other delicacies.  Other Chinese restaurants are Jing Fong and Tasty Hand-pulled Noodles as well as any others.  If you want to go to affordable eateries Tasty Hand-pulled Noodles and Mei Li Wah Bakery are very good choices.  Those who have a sweet tooth will love Aji Ichiban Candy Store, which has a wide variety of Asian candy.                                                                                                                                                       

As a tourist attraction in Lower Manhattan, Chinatown is the epitome of Asian culture in the West for it has the highest number of people outside of Asia.  There are 90,000 to 100,000 Asians who call Chinatown their home.  Through their hard work and sacrifice, they have turned Chinatown into a prosperous metropolis.  Showing cultural pride, all the streets in Chinatown have Asian names.  The statue of Confucius, created in 1976, is a popular meeting place in Chinatown and a great place to take photos.  Another popular spot in Chinatown is Columbus Park, a park that was made famous by the book and film, Gangs in New York.  In 2010, Chinatown and Little Italy were listed as a single historic district on the National Register of Historic Places.                                                                         

Throughout the year there are always any enjoyable activities in Chinatown, but the most anticipated event will be the Chinese New Year. Of all the 12 Chinese zodiac signs, the rat is the first sign of the Chinese zodiac.  Unlike in the Western world where zodiac signs are based on your month and date of birth, the Chinese zodiac is just based on your year of birth                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Since 2020 will be the Year of the Rat, it is interesting to note some good characteristics of this sign.  Rats are sensitive to the emotions of others.  They are also intelligent optimistic and energetic.  Since rats are creative, they are good as authors, editors and artists.  They are also well suited as engineers and architects since they pay attention to detail                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

This year will not be very lucky for rats because the sign that falls on the Chinese New Year will have an unfortunate year according to the Chinese zodiac.  All the other 11 signs of the Chinese zodiac will have better luck than rats.  The good news is that rats will have a good year in their professional life.  However, they will have struggles in their relationships.  If a rat is single, this is not a good year to look for a partner.  Rats that are married are expected to have marital problems.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Famous people who were born in rat years are Scarlett Johansson, Prince Harry, Eminem, Jean-Claude Van Damme, George H W Bush and Jimmy Carter among any others. Despite the bleak zodiac prediction, let’s hope all rats have a great year and overcome all their struggles.  Hope all of you have a safe and a happy Chinese New Year.