As everyone wistfully sighs because the holiday season is over, but people of Chinese descent know that this is only a short break from the chaos. The Lunar New Year is just around the corner, which means a whole other round of parties, drinks and celebrations. My heritage and culture as a Chinese American is so important to me, so I wanted to share a bit more about it. This year, Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, begins on January 25th and ends on February 8th. If you’re wondering how you can get in on the festivities, here are 10 different ways to celebrate Lunar New Year 2020.
1. Indulge in Traditional Chinese Food
For me, one of my favorite things about Lunar New Year is the food. I grew up on Chinese food and it continues to act as one of my favorite comfort indulgence. To celebrate, incorporate some traditional food into your festivities – like dumplings, sticky rice balls, fish and more! Whether you take a stab at making it from scratch or simply head to your local Chinese restaurant, food is a great way to learn about a culture. Not sure where to eat? Here are my favorite spots in NYC!
2. Clean Up Before Spring
Forget spring cleaning! I do my big top to bottom cleanse of the house in preparation for the new year. They say that getting rid of unnecessary clutter translates to putting 2019’s troubles behind you and welcoming positive vibes for the inception of the new year. This totally makes sense because a clean home always puts my mind at ease.
3. Wear Red
Red is considered a lucky color so an easy way to celebrate is by translating this into your outfit. Incorporating bright accessories or going for a head-to-toe red outfit symbolizes good fortune and joy, so who wouldn’t want to welcome the new year without red!
4. Give Red Packets
Speaking of red, you probably have seen those little red packets (hongbao) that are given out during this time period. Since red is the symbol of fortune and good luck, these packets are monetary gifts to show people you wish them well for the new year.
5. Take Part In or Watch Traditional Lion Dancing
Dance is an important part of the Spring Festival. A fun way to celebrate the new year is to find a place to watch the traditional lion dance. This is an intricate performance in a long costume. This animal is supposed to bring power and wisdom, while also chasing away evil spirits.
6. Visit Chinatown
When in doubt, head to your city’s Chinatown for some fun. If it’s during the Lunar New Year, chances are there is going to be something going on! Last year, I shared my top 7 things to do in NYC during Chinese New Year – you can reference that post here. Even if you’re not in NYC, there’s bound to be smaller celebrations where there’s a larger Asian population (note that Lunar New Year isn’t just celebrated by the Chinese but also Vietnamese, Burmese, and others). If not, there are tons of restaurants offering up dishes you can indulge in.
7. Bake Delectable Chinese Treats
Just as important as the food are the sweet treats. Nian Gao (sweet rice cake), rice balls, and spongecakes are just some of the sweeter things the Chinese celebrate with. In fact, you can have fun by trying to bake them from home!
8. Honor Your Ancestors
In Chinese culture, we are continually paying our respects to those who came before us, but especially during the New Year. Take some time to commemorate your ancestors and thank them for all they have done for you. An alternative to this is to visit a local temple!
9. Learn About Your Zodiac
The Chinese Zodiac is a repeating cycle of 12 years and a different animal is assigned to each. Your own zodiac animal is based on the year you were born. Definitely check out to see which zodiac symbol you are! It’s really interesting to read up on things such as shared traits and relations with other zodiac animals. If you’re into astrology at all, then you’ll surely love reading about your Chinese zodiac!
10. Spend Time with Friends and Family
Most importantly, the Lunar New Year ultimately comes down to reuniting with your loved ones. The best thing you can do during the holiday is to spend some beloved time with your friends and family. This can be an elaborate traditional Chinese family-style dinner or simply meeting up with a friend you haven’t seen in awhile.
Have you guys celebrated the Lunar New Year before? Tell me all about your experience!