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Year Of The Rat Begins As New Yorkers Prepare For Lunar New Year Celebrations

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Lunar New Year kicks off Saturday with celebrations lasting the next two weeks until Feb. 8.

Millions are getting ready around the world, and Chinatown in Lower Manhattan is planning to have everyone join in the celebrations, reports CBS2's Cindy Hsu.

CBS2 caught up with a group of fourth-graders practicing the Spring Ribbon Dance at PS 124. They know all about the New Year, especially when it comes to the food eaten for good luck like noodles for a long life and lots of other things.

"Chicken, shrimp, broccoli," said 9-yea-old Ethan Tan. "We eat a lot."

As the Year of the Rat, all sorts of decorations depict a very cute rodent, and red envelopes will be given out to single people and children.

"Inside the red envelopes is money," said 9-year-old Ava Lam. "My mom and dad keep the money for college for me, my little brother and my sister."

Each student will get a red envelope from the school with $1 and something sweet inside.

"They get two pieces of candy, one they can eat and then one they can save," said Alice Hom, principal at PS 124.

Lunar New Year Celebrations Planned For Flushing, Queens

While this is the biggest holiday for many Asian families, anyone can take part.

"Any race, any religion can celebrate," said 9-year-old Olivia Chan. "It's just like celebrating everyone."

Ching Yeh Chen owns Pearl River Mart and says family gatherings are what the holiday is all about.

"Family reunion is the biggest thing, no matter where you are," she said. "You go back home."

The Lunar New Year calendar has 12 animals - Ox, Tiger, Rabbit - that are similar to the stellar zodiac signs in Western astrology.

It's the year you're born that determines what animal you are, so nearly all these fourth-graders were born in 2010 - making them all Tigers.

WHAT CHINESE ZODIAC ANIMAL ARE YOU? Horse? Goat? Dragon? Find out on

Along with the holiday comes many traditions like lion dances, fireworks and lots of red.

"Just like red is a good luck color, white is not," said young Chan, but yellow is fortunate.

For more Lunar New Year happenings this year, check out Time Out New York's Best Things To Do For Lunar New Year and NYC GO's Lunar New Year Guide. There you'll find dates and places for neighborhood festivals, parades, children's activities and more.

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