Did you know that not all New Year celebrations are created equal? The Chinese celebrate their New Year a little later than the rest of the world – typically in late January or February (depending on the year). And while me nor my family are Chinese, we have made it a tradition to celebrate the Chinese New Year every year. Because of this, I thought I would give a little run-down on the Chinese New Year.
There are a variety of traditions that walk hand-in-hand with the Chinese New Year. These traditions include…
Fireworks – Fireworks are used to drive away evil. At the stroke of Midnight on the Chinese New Year, fireworks are launched to chase away the evil and welcome the New Year.
Wearing red – Legend has it there was a mythical beast that would come out during the night of New Year’s Eve had harm people and animals and vandalize property. The mythical beast was fearful of the color red, so people would wear red for protection and to bring them good luck. Keep in mind, wearing the color red is not limited to clothes. Decorating your house in red is also said to bring good luck.
Red Packets – Also referred to as money envelopes, are little decorative (and red) envelopes of money. They are typically given to children, but many families give them to all members of the family. For example, in my family, we take turns being the person who gives out red envelopes to family members. The thought behind the red packets is it will bring luck, keep the recipient healthy, and provide long life (as well has keep away evil). However, there are rules to the amount of money to give. There should be no coins, give an even amount of number (i.e. $10 or $20), but never give anything in the amount of 4. Four is bad luck. For the best luck, it is best to give in an amount of 8 (such as $80).
Food – Food is a big deal. It is important to provide a bountiful meal, and the New Year’s meal is often limited to close family. Items including dumplings, new year’s cake, fish (of some sort), and rice balls (such as Tang Yuan). All these items are meant to bring good luck for the new year and to share the bounty with loved ones.
The Chinese Zodiac – This is a very popular aspect of the Chinese New Year. The Chinese Zodiac is similar to western civilization’s version of the zodiac, it encapsulates 12 different animals – each representing a year ever 12 years. If you were born within that year (which is not on a January – December calendar), you are under that animal’s sign. For 2019, it is the year of the Pig and is symbolic of wealth.
Also popular during Chinese New Year celebrations is the parades that include dragon dances, fireworks, lanterns, confetti, etc. While I’ve never attended these big celebrations, I’ve heard a lot of positive things about them and attending one (or more) is on my bucket list. Typically, my family likes to keep it quiet… Staying home, decorating in red and gold, wearing red, and eating great food (which we attempt to make and not go to a restaurant). What about you? Do you celebrate the Chinese New Year? Tell me what you’re doing.