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Southern California Asian Communities Welcome Year Of The Dragon

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Gung Hay Fat Choy! Southern California's Asian American communities celebrated the Lunar New Year Monday, ushering in the Year of the Dragon, considered to be the luckiest year in the Chinese Zodiac.

The holiday, also known as Chinese New Year, Korean New Year, Japanese New Year and Tet in the Vietnamese community, celebrates the new year on a lunar calendar and the beginning of spring.

In the Chinese zodiac, the Dragon is considered to be the luckiest sign, symbolizing good fortune and intense power. According to Wikipedia, the dragon's motto is "I reign."

In most Asian homes celebrating Lunar New Year, the holiday is a time to clean house, clear debts and host elaborate feasts with family and friends. Distributing money in red "lucky" envelopes is a widespread tradition, and the night is often ended with firecrackers.

In Hacienda Heights, the Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple welcomes thousands of visitors for special events on Monday, like the Chinese New Year Peace Lantern Festival  and the New Year Cultural Performance.

Most communities will commemorate the holiday this weekend with dragon parades and festivals.  In downtown Los Angeles, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce will hold its Golden Dragon Parade Saturday, Jan. 28 at 1 p.m.

The city of Monterey Park will hold its weekend-long festival Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 28 and 29, in its downtown business district on Garvey Avenue, between Garfield and Nicholson.

Garden Grove's Tet Festival of Southern California is the largest outside of Vietnam and spans three days, from Friday, Jan. 27 through Sunday Jan. 29. The festival features a Miss Vietnam of Southern California pageant, a talent competition, and live performances at Garden Grove Park.

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