How and Why to Celebrate Chinese New Year at Home

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How (and Why) to Celebrate Chinese New Year at Home

Here’s how to embrace the lunar new year
How and Why to Celebrate Chinese New Year at Home

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Chinese New Year festivities will kick off on Friday, February 12, 2021. Unlike the Roman calendar (which marks the New Year holiday every Jan. 1), the Chinese calendar is based on the lunar calendar and the winter solstice. According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2021 is the Year of the Ox; it lasts from February 12, 2021 through January 31 2022. The ox is said to represent diligence, and people born during the year of the ox are predicted to be steady, hardworking, ambitious, creative and stubborn.

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Although the coronavirus pandemic means that there won't be the typical Chinese New Year festivals and parades that usually take place around the United States, it doesn't mean that you can't celebrate. One great way to mark the holiday is to order food from your local Chinese restaurants, which have suffered from increased rates of racism and a downturn in business throughout the pandemic. You can also incorporate some Chinese traditions into your home, such as these:

Cleaning
The start of a new year is all about maximizing your luck and getting rid of your demons from the previous year. Before the start of the Chinese New Year, families clean their homes from top to bottom to rid the house of any bad luck that accumulated over the last 12 months. If you’re exhausted after all of that extensive cleaning, don’t worry: To preserve the new good luck in your home, you shouldn’t sweep for a few days after the new year.

Decorations
The color red has a lot of symbolism in Chinese culture; it represents energy, good luck, and happiness. Thus, it follows that red is everywhere in Chinese New Year décor. Deck the halls in red lanterns, banners, streamers, and signs with messages for well wishes. Gold, another color representing wealth and prosperity, is the perfect accent color in your decorations.

Fireworks
In the United States, fireworks are most closely associated with Independence Day, but in China, they’re reserved for the new year. In the Chinese spirit, light up some small sparklers this weekend (safety note: if you do opt for small fireworks, be aware of the fireworks regulations in your area, be respectful of neighbors, and don't go setting any forest fires from fireworks sparks). The colors add to the celebratory atmosphere of a new year. 

Red Envelope
Giving and receiving red envelopes filled with money is a well-loved tradition for the Chinese New Year.  As soon as you start earning your own money, it’s expected that you give red envelopes to your elders, children, employees, and friends’ children. If you want to maximize your luck, give out dollar amounts with eights in them, as eight is the luckiest number in Chinese culture.

The Food
No holiday would be complete without a delicious meal, and the Chinese New Year is no different. The main food for this holiday is the dumpling. Resembling the shape of pieces of gold, these pork and chive stuffed pillows are delicious and will bring luck — the Chinese name, jiaozi, sounds like a word that means “bidding farewell to the old and ushering in the new.” Other traditional Chinese New Year dishes include noodles (dan dan noodles are a great choice), whole roasted fish, spring rolls, and roasted poultry.