Lunar New Year is a much different experience in Philadelphia's Chinatown given the pandemic

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The streets of Philadelphia's Chinatown are pretty quiet for Lunar New Year 2021.

It's the year of the Ox celebrated by many Asian cultures including Vietnamese, Tet and Korean. But it's a much different look from the usual lively festivities in years past. Gone are the traditional lion dance and families drawing close together.

"It's the only time that you have family reunion," Linda Li said.

Linda Li works at the Canto House in Chinatown known for its delicacies like duck. She said Lunar New Year is the one holiday families never miss and takes precedent over birthdays.

The restaurant was one of the few businesses open this Lunar New Year, but only for takeout. Li said the whole Asian business community has been hit hard, particularly given former President Trump called the coronavirus the "Chinese virus."

"Not the most respectful thing. If you go into any Chinese restaurant. you can see they're doing what they need to do. If anything, we actually clean every hour because we're scared ourselves, too," Li said.

The City of Philadelphia mentioned that 23 percent of the applications to the Philadelphia Relief Fund were from Asian-American owned businesses, and out of nearly 600 businesses, 29 percent of the awardeses were Asian-American businesses.

"The business is definitely down a little bit because people scared to come out," Minyi Nie with Saint Honoree Bakery said.

But the sweetness is still thriving at Saint Honoree Bakery.

While it's a much different Lunar New Year, the elements of the much anticipated holiday, like family bonding, are stronger than ever.
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