Chinese New Year lasts for the first 15 days of the new lunar cycle. This year it falls on February 19th. Chinese New Year is celebrated across Asia and the world by billions of people so unsurprisingly there are a lot of diverse traditions that are followed. But that doesn’t mean there is a right or wrong way to celebrate Chinese New Year. Whether you are celebrating or just want to know more about this fantastic occasion here are 10 ways to celebrate Chinese New Year.
1: Clean Your Home
The first step of celebrating Chinese New Year is to clean your home. Although it may not sound exciting, doing so has great spiritual importance. Cleaning your home rids it of bad luck and creates an ideal environment to begin the new year. But be careful, cleaning your home after the New Year might sweep away any good luck that you have accumulated.
2: Reunion dinner
Usually held the night before the new year begins – ie tonight! – families will reunite and gather for a feast. Often family members will all pitch in and clean the family home together. Reuniting with friends and family to share a tasty meal is the most important part of the holiday for many people. Especially for Canadians from China or with Chinese (or other Southeast Asian) heritage, food plays an important role in celebrating their cultural roots.
3: New clothes
Often new clothes are bought leading up to the New Year to celebrate the most important Chinese occasion in style. Traditional Chinese clothing is the ideal garb to ring in the New Year. Even if you don’t have traditional clothing you should at least dress in red and be sure to avoid black – the colour of bad luck and even death.
4: The number 8
The number 8 is as significant in Chinese culture as the colour red. It symbolises money, prosperity and good fortune. Incorporate the number 8 into food presentation, decorations and more this Chinese New Year to maximise your good fortune.
Lotus flowers symbolize rebirth and growth while mandarin oranges (with the leaves still on) are the fruit of happiness. Also, lay out bowls of candies throughout your home for hungry guests. Remember that the number 8 is lucky so try to decorate accordingly – 8 flowers, 8 oranges, 8 candies.
6: Red envelopes
Traditionally on Chinese New Year families give one another (especially children or unmarried people) red envelopes with money called Hong Bao, Ang Pao, or Lai See (meaning red package or good for business). These are meant to imbue the recipient with good luck and success – especially financially.
7: Make offerings to Chinese deities
When decorating be sure to include a ‘door god’ image on your front door to ward off evil spirits and protect your home and its occupants. Paying respect to the Kitchen God is also crucial, considering the importance of family feasts. To do this you’re expected to offer sacrifices of food, candy or water to the Kitchen God.
8: Red decorations
The colour red is associated with good luck in Chinese culture. Red paper lanterns are perhaps the most recognisable Chinese New Year decoration. Hang them around your home and even outside for good luck and to get into the festive spirit. Red paper cutouts depicting scenes from Chinese mythology are often placed over north and south facing windows. To really maximise your decorations and your luck, paint your door and window frames bright red!
9: Public Celebrations
Over the course of the 15 days Chinese New Year is celebrated, expect parades and festivals filled with traditional Chinese music, costumes, lion and dragon dancing, acrobatics and more.
Fireworks have long been associated with Chinese New Year, the loud noises combined with lion dancing, drumming and the colour red ward off evil spirits – especially the monster Nian.
We’ll be covering Chinese New Year until the Lantern Festival wraps things up. So follow the Current for more on the ongoing festivities.
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