Where to Eat
Chinese people really value their food, so naturally eating well is a big part of celebrating the New Year. This is one of the best ways to get to know a culture and its’ people, plus you end up leaving with a happy stomach! I may be biased but it’s hard to find a traditional Chinese dish that isn’t incredibly delicious. Here are some great places to start:
Local Chinese Restaurants: Chances are there are a plethora of Chinese restaurants around where you reside. It’s probably easy to resort to buffet (there’s nothing wrong with that), but try expanding and finding a restaurant that serves up more authentic recipes so you can really get the full experience. If you are based in New York, check out these 10 dishes you need to try and where you can find them.
Dim Sum: More specifically, a dim sum restaurant is one of my favorites! Dim sum is is a style of Chinese brunch that features a variety of bite-sized pieces served in steamers or small plates. It is always served with tea and is perfect for if you are gathering with a large group of friends or family. It’s an amazing food experience everyone needs to at least try and what better time than during Chinese New Year.
Friends & Family: If you are lucky enough to be able to skip the lines at your local food joints and are able to score an invite to a Chinese American friend or family’s house – definitely take advantage. Yes, you get the experience of traditional cuisine in a restaurant but nothing really beats a home cooked meal that can be shared with loved ones.
What to Eat
Besides the usual spring rolls, chicken, and noodles, there are other symbolic treats to be on the lookout for on Chinese New Year. Here are 3 of my favorites:
Dumplings – Dumpling represent wealth, and culturally, it’s believed that the more dumplings you eat, the more money you will make in the upcoming year. Dumplings can be filled with anything, but the more common fillings include pork, cabbage, and spring onion or shrimp.
Tang Yuan – These are a Chinese dessert made from glutinous rice flour filled with black sesame or red bean paste. Its smooth round shape is symbolic of the full moon and represents harmony.
Fish – Steamed fish is an essential Chinese New Year dish and represents abundance. It’s usually steamed whole and is the cornerstone of a family-style dinner.
What to Do
Lunar New Year celebrations vary from city to city, but one of the following options below is universal and bound to happen where you are:
Parade: One of the most iconic events that occur for Lunar New Year is the parades. Check out the events going on in your nearest city. There is bound to be at least one parade you can go check out. This is a really fun thing to do with your children! They will have so much fun listening to the music, trying food and watching the traditional dragon dance.
Lantern Festival: This typically marks the end of Chinese New Year, which is February 8 of this year. The Lantern Festival signifies letting go of the past and welcoming all the good that comes with entering into a new year. Try reserving a spot at your nearest Lantern Festival before it gets sold out!
Firecracker Ceremony: Chinese New Year celebrations often kick off with the lighting of firecrackers to welcome the new year and ward off evil spirits. In NYC, this takes place at Sara D. Roosevelt Park, and is often a major attraction for those wanting to get in on the action.
If you’re in New York
If you’re in a major hub like NYC, San Francisco, Seattle, or Chicago, then you have more options… Given that I’m in the NYC area, I wanted to drop some specifics that are worth your time:
– For Manhattan, the Lunar New Year parade will take place on February 9 – expect hundreds of thousands of people! Many other local spots will host special events in celebration of the new year. If you have extra time, pop in at the Westfield World Trade Center on the Oculus floor through February 1 or The Met for some art activities.
– For Flushing/Queens, the Lunar New Year parade will commence January 25 at 11 am. At the Queens Botanical Garden, there will also be a host of performances and workshops you can enjoy.
– For Brooklyn, the festival will take place January 25 and comprise of music, dancing, and cultural performances.
Any plans to participate in Chinese New Year celebrations? Drop them below!