JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — As many Georgians prepare to say goodbye to the first month of 2023, there are several communities working to ring in the Year of the Rabbit.
This year's 15-day celebration technically begins on Jan. 22 but the City of Johns Creek is hosting its Lunar New Year festival on Saturday.
People can enjoy the delicacies of East Asian culture, listen to traditional and reinspired music and of course take in the culture that has brought the Spring Festival to this side of the world.
"Lunar New Year is a lot of people, not only China," Cindy Fang, a musician with Magic Eastern Ensemble said. Fang will be performing Saturday with the group at Newtown Park as part of the festival.
Though often thought of as a Chinese holiday, Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and other communities also commemorate the beginning of a new year on the lunisolar Chinese calendar. To note, in Vietnam the celebrations will usher in the Year of the Cat, but other traditions overlap.
"We can throw this event and bring everybody together," Fang said about uniting the diverse ethnicities that exist within the Asian American Pacific Islander community.
PHOTOS | Magic Eastern Ensemble
According to 2020 U.S. Census Bureau data, people who identify with Georgia's AAPI community now make up more than 4% of the state population, which amounts to around 430,000 people.
Though not all AAPI ethnicities observe the Lunar New Year, they are happy to uplift and support the celebrations of those in Georgia who hold the tradition close.
According to Georgia's Laotian American Society, the holiday is an intersecting point for its community and other ethnicities that exist under the AAPI umbrella.
"We as a whole, we do not celebrate Lunar New Year. However, that is not necessarily true for a lot of us that are Laotian American as a lot of us are mixed with Chinese ancestry and Vietnamese ancestry," Kimberly Lattanaxay, the cultural and education director for the society said.
To celebrate this intersection, the group works to attend and perform at events to acknowledge members of its community that may have been raised within a melting pot of cultures.
Though Laotians celebrate their new year in April, people can expect to see Lattanaxay and members of the society at the Johns Creek festival. The Laotian American Society has been preparing to perform with its dance team known as Souliyah Natasinh.
"We have been practicing this specific song which is the Blessing Dance. It's a very traditional Laotian song that's normally performed at New Year's or at the beginning of a ceremony or a celebration," Lattanaxay said.
Festival goers will be able to see performers as young as eight take the stage and pride in their culture for one of their first performances of the year. Justin Settah Rodriguez, the public relations director of the Laotian American Society said the performance is just one way how the organization serves its mission to educate the next generation of Georgia's growing AAPI presence.
"I think that our mission is just to also educate our youth and to also be proud of our own heritage," he said, "but also to embrace representing ourselves among other ethnicities and to create a cultural camaraderie within the entirety of the AAPI community."
Johns Creek Lunar New Year Festival:
Saturday, Jan. 21 | 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Mark Burkhalter Amphitheater inside Newtown Park
3150 Old Alabama Rd, Johns Creek, GA 30022
*Service dogs are welcomed; pets are not allowed