Celebrate the Year of the Rabbit This Lunar New Year

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Today, February 3, is the first day of the Lunar New Year, celebrated throughout Asia from China to Vietnam (yes, Tết is today too).

2011 is the Year of the Rabbit, which should usher in a much calmer and more fruitful year than we experienced with the Year of the Tiger. The rabbit also means a year of good taste, refinement and luxury in all areas -- including food.

That said, it would be particularly dreadful to celebrate a much-needed year of prosperity by actually eating rabbit for dinner. Instead, head over to the Chinese Community Center on Saturday, February 5, and take part in the annual Lunar New Year celebration from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Last year's Lunar New Year celebration was hands-down one of the most fun events I went to all year. We ended up staying for the duration of the festival -- and when's the last time you could say that about an event, especially one that's free? Check out this slideshow if you don't believe me.

This year's celebration includes a bunny petting area (pet them gently, Lennie) in addition to the traditional festivities like dragon and lion dances, acrobatic performances, martial arts demonstrations, magic shows and performances by the Houston Grand Opera. You do not want to miss that last one, by the way.

But although there are a great many things to do at the Lunar New Year festival for free, don't make the mistake I made last year and come without cash. The best thing about the festival, after all, is the food.

Food stalls line the exterior of the Community Center, men and women churning out fresh meals in mere minutes. From Japanese-influenced bento boxes to Hong Kong-style curried rice and pork dishes, there's a type of food for anyone here -- but the food stalls only take cash.

But in the Year of the Rabbit, suddenly finding a few stray dollars in your couch cushions should be a breeze.

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