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Chef Lee’s Peking Restaurant Helps The Chattahoochee Valley Celebrate the Chinese New Year

Mar 18, 2024 05:03PM ● By Desi Phillips

Enter the Year of the Dragon. Now you may not know a lot about the Chinese New Year, but if you speak to Harriet Chu, owner of Chef Lee’s Peking Restaurant in Columbus you will. The Chinese New Year in 2024 is known as the Year of the Dragon. The Year of the Dragon is significant, and each zodiac animal has meaning and significance. 

Harriet explains that this is all based on a very complex Chinese Zodiac calendar. A 12-year cycle is represented by 12 different animals, in this order: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. 

Your personal zodiac animal sign is determined by your year of birth. You can find your animal sign when you visit Chef Lee’s and find your year and animal on the place settings on your table.

There is a consensus on what the year means for each zodiac animal based on the positions of the stars. Many myths and folk tales are attached to the Lunar New Year. And it can be a lot of fun for anyone, any age, to read about. Or stop in at Chef Lee’s Peking Restaurant and ask Harriet about all of this. I can spend hours listening to her tell stories of the Chinese culture.

Here are some of the things I learned from Harriet on a recent visit. The Lunar New Year often lasts for 15 days and the days have different tasks and activities that take place over that period. Here are a few of the dates that Harriet explained to me and their importance.

The year the Lunar New Year’s Eve was February 9. This is usually celebrated with a big feast. The food features Chinese dishes associated with luck, including fish. Harriet explained to me that the Chinese word for fish sounds like “surplus”.  Puddings symbolize advancement and foods like dumplings look like gold ingots. 

Day 7 is considered the PEOPLE’S BIRTHDAY. The seventh day of the Lunar New Year (that was February 16 this year) is believed to be when the Chinese mother goddess, Nuwa, created humanity. That is why it is called the People’s Birthday. 

Day 15 the Lantern Festival. This falls on the 15th and final day. That was February 24. The Lantern Festival celebrates the first full moon of the year and marks the departure of winter and the beginning of the spring season. People light lanterns to symbolize driving out darkness and bringing hope to the coming year.  Harriet told me that this is also considered the Chinese Valentine’s Day. She explained in ancient Chinese society this is the only day when young girls were allowed to go out to admire the lanterns and meet boys.

I won’t deny that I have become a frequent visitor to Chef Lee’s Peking Restaurant for several reasons. Spending time talking and sharing with Harriet is one of my favorite reasons. Chef Lee’s is also one of the very few restaurants in Columbus that is open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week. Yes, even on Sundays and Mondays. And Chef Lee’s serves authentic Chinese/Korean cuisine.

Make sure you check out their special savings on Chef Lee’s Peking Restaurant is helping give back to the community through our Dining for Charities program.

Visit Chef Lee’s Peking Restaurant on Bradley Park Dr. and make sure to say hi to Harriet Chu.