HOW TO CELEBRATE CHINESE LUNAR NEW YEAR

WHEN IS CHINESE (LUNAR) NEW YEAR 2021?

2021 IS THE YEAR OF THE OX

FEB 11, 2021   –   CHINESE NEW YEARS EVE

A time to gather with family, enjoy an abundance of superstitious foods at Reunion Dinner and stay up past midnight to watch the fireworks extravaganza!

FEB 12, 2021   –   CHINESE NEW YEARS DAY

A day to enjoy fireworks, family time and offer sacrifices to ancestors

FEB 12 – 22, 2021  –  SPRING FESTIVAL

A time to visit with relatives and friends, play games and enjoying great spring foods

FEB 23 – 26, 2021   –   LANTERN FESTIVAL

A time to enjoy nature, gaze at the moon, light lanterns and send fireworks and lanterns up to the moon in the sky.  Families traditionally gather for one big final celebration meal.

HOLIDAY SUMMARY:

An extravagant 15 day celebration rooted in thousands of years of traditions and superstitions, The Chinese New Year is all about warding off evil and creating luck, prosperity and good fortune for the New Year.  Also known as Lunar New Year, the Spring Festival and the Lantern Festival, the celebration incorporates beautiful art, amazing food and time to exercise the mind and spirit.

While there are thousands of traditions honored during the festival, here are a few simple ways you can celebrate at home!

HOW TO DECORATE FOR CHINESE NEW YEAR

Fill your home with an abundance of the color RED which is believed to scare away evil.  The color GOLD is also widely used as it’s believed to invite wealth into your home.

CHINESE NEW YEAR RED LANTERNS

An abundance of hanging red lanterns symbolize booming life and prosperous business in Chinese culture.  Lanterns are hung up in homes, businesses and throughout most cities on (or prior to) Chinese New Year’s Eve and remain hanging through the spring Lantern Festival; the 15th and final day of the Chinese New Year celebration.

For a fun challenge, many families and businesses attach riddles to their lanterns for friends and family to ponder and solve. Here are a few KIDS RIDDLES and some more CHALLENGING RIDDLES FOR ADULTS.

LANTERNS ON AMAZON:

CHINESE NEW YEAR DOOR COUPLETS

Doorways are decorated with poetic wishes for the new year; written on two parallel vertical scrolls of red paper with gold or black ink.  The scrolls must be equal length and express two separate thoughts using an identical sentence structure.

For example:

  • “A wide sea lets fish jump; a high sky lets birds fly.”
  • “Distance tests a horse’s strength; time reveals a person’s heart.”

On top of the door centered between the scrolls is often a third small horizontal scroll which states the title of the poem. The title of the poem and must be exactly 4 characters (or words) long.

Have fun creating your own poetry around the house or decorate with pre-made scrolls.

DOOR COUPLETS ON AMAZON:

DINING TABLE DECOR

A great deal of thought goes into decorating the dinner table for family gatherings during the Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner and Lantern Festival.  Decorative items are chosen for their symbolism in attracting good fortune, health and prosperity for the coming year.  RED is incorporated to keep evil away and GOLD is used to attract wealth.  These colors can be incorporated into floral decor, confetti, table toppers, table cloths, table runners, placemats, cups and utensils.

SHOP DINING TABLE DECOR:

WHAT TO EAT FOR CHINESE NEW YEAR

Chinese New Years Eve, Chinese New Years Day and the Lantern Festival are three big days that reunite extended family over traditional meals filled with superstitions and meaning.  While there are hundreds of customary cuisines served across the country with various religions roots, below are a few common dishes along with their symbolism:

A WHOLE FISH – is a Chinese New Year’s Eve staple.  The fish welcomes prosperity and abundance into the coming year.  When serving the fish, make sure the eyes are gazing toward guests that are your elders as a sign of respect.  Only the the middle portion of the fish is eaten on CNYE.  Save the head and tail as a symbol of surplus to be enjoyed on New Year’s Day.

DUMPLINGS – signify wealth as the shape resembles an ancient Chinese coin. Families typically prepare hand made dumplings together on New Year’s Eve symbolizing wrapping up the old year.  The dumplings are eaten together after midnight to ring in the new year!  Eat carefully – some families honor the tradition of hiding a coin in one dumpling.  It’s superstition that whoever receives the hidden coin will enjoy a prosperous year!

SPRING ROLLS – symbolize wealth and prosperity as their shape and color loosely resemble gold bars.  To properly  celebrate the season rolling into spring, stuff each roll with the freshest spring ingredients you can find.

LONG NOODLES – represent long life!  Extra long noodles are eaten on this holiday to increase longevity.

ROUND FRUITS – celebrate the moon.  Fruits in the orange family like tangerines and clementines are commonly associated with wealth due to their golden color.  The Chinese word for orange is structurally similar to the Chinese words for “success” and “luck” which make them extra popular this time of year.

GAMES & ACTIVITIES

The week long national holiday is a wonderful time to gather with family and play games.  Here are a few popular traditions and activities.

EXCHANGING OF RED ENVELOPES  紅包, (hóngbāo)

Perhaps THE MOST POPULAR TRADITION is to stuff red and gold envelopes with money and gift them to friends and family as a symbol of prosperity.  If you can’t meet in person, mailing these ornately decorated envelopes to loved ones is sure to bring a smile!  When gifting the envelope, be sure to also share a wish of good fortune or piece of wisdom for the New Year.

 

SHOP RED ENVELOPES ON AMAZON:

POPULAR CHINESE BOARD GAMES

MAH JONG (麻將 Májiàng)

How to play Mah Jong

The most widely played game during the Chinese New Year celebration, Mah Jong is a tile based strategy game for 2-4 players.

CHINESE CHESS

How to play Chinese Chess

CHINESE CHESS is a long game between two players involving strategy.  Here’s how to play!

SCRATCHABLE FORTUNE CARDS

Scratchable fortune cards are a fun way to predict your fortune for the year ahead.  Remember to use a lucky coin! Extra luck if it’s gold.  To celebrate during COVID you can mail some to friends and family or have the family scratch a new card for every day of the celebration.

 

SHOP FORTUNE CARDS ON AMAZON:

HOME PHOTO BOOTH SELFIES

Buy or create a fun backdrop to decorate your home and send Chinese New Year Selfies to your friends and family!

 

SHOP PHOTO BOOTH ACCESSORIES ON AMAZON:

CHILDREN'S LEARNING ACTIVITIES

SPRING FESTIVAL MUSIC PLAYLISTS

Enjoy these Chinese Lunar New Year musical playlists with your meals or keep them going as background ambiance music through the holiday.

64 songs (4hr 16min) – Celebratory songs by artists across the various regions of China

24 Songs (2hrs 10min) Upbeat Chinese Orchestral Songs Celebrating the Spring Festival

18 songs (1hr 14min) Traditional and mellow music from China

WHAT TO WATCH FOR CHINESE NEW YEAR

While CCTV’s NEW YEAR’S / SPRING FESTIVAL GALA is the premiere event of the season; showcasing China’s best and brightest talent in an over the top talent show, here are a few additional ways to celebrate the culture of China.

WATCH THE OFFICIAL 2021 CCTV NEW YEAR GALA ON YOUTUBE

A romantic Chinese New Year comedy about the three Shang brothers

A martial arts comedy about the misadventures of two friend’s failed attempt at to joining a Deadly Axe Gang.

WHAT TO WEAR FOR CHINESE LUNAR NEW YEAR

Chinese New Year is a time to wear RED! The significance of the color red is to scare away spirits of evil and bad fortune.  Bright and lively colors are also welcome but stay away from black and white as they invite death.

On Chinese New Year’s Day, it’s tradition to be covered from head to toe in brand new never before worn clothing and accessories.  This includes new jewelry and  YES, new undergarments!

While some people enjoy wearing traditional Tang Suits, many wear modern western clothing as well.

CLOTHING INSPIRATION ON AMAZON:

PARTY FAVORS

While red envelopes are the most traditional party favor, for those who are looking to celebrate a Lunar New Year or Spring Festival themed shower, party or event, here are a few additional party favors.

QUICK FACTS ABOUT THE CHINESE NEW YEAR

HOW IS THE START OF CHINESE NEW YEAR DETERMINED?

The Chinese New Year is celebrated on the first day of the Lunar New Year (which typically falls sometime between January 21st and February 20th each year on the Gregorian calendar).  The exact start date is determined by beginning on the second new moon after the winter solstice (December 21st).  The celebration spans over two weeks long; staring with Chinese New Year’s Eve and ending with the Lantern Festival on day 15.

HOW MANY PEOPLE CELEBRATE CHINESE NEW YEAR?

Roughly 1/6th of the world’s population celebrate Chinese New Year with over 3 billion people migrating to their home towns to be with family; making it the world’s largest annual human migration.