Chinese New Year, also called Lunar New Year, begins this Friday, January 31.
The entire celebration lasts for 15 days, and is filled with food, traditions (and superstitions), firecrackers, and excitement. Here are just a few of the reasons we love CNY!
Red is the color of Chinese New Year, and it’s the luckiest color of all in the Chinese culture. You’ll find highlights of red on paper cut outs and lanterns, in observers’ attire, and on the money-filled red envelopes. For the Chinese, red represents prosperity, and its ferocity is long known to ward of evil spirits and bad energy.
Inside the little red envelopes you’ve probably seen are gifts of ca-a-ash. Usually gifted by elders to the children of the family, the gifts of money are meant to protect youth and equip them with good energy as they grow. Make sure to wish friends and family “gung hay fat choy” to receive your little packets of good luck!
3. Save the chores for later
It’s strictly taboo to do any vigorous cleaning for the first few days of the New Year because it’s during this time that the good luck is at its peak. So put the brooms and mops away and enjoy the beginning of the New Year without any stresses…you don’t want to sweep the good luck away!
Just when you thought the feasting was over after Christmas, CNY is here to spoil you with more belly satisfaction. The new year’s eve dinner is considered the most important meal of the holiday, and traditional treats include long noodles (for long life), the tray of togetherness (to symbolize family), and a mochi-like cake called “nian gao” (to symbolize a prosperous year) to name a few. Oranges are the hallmark fruit of the holiday, and relatives and friends will gift plump, fresh oranges to spread wealth.
Families come far and wide to be with their loved ones on CNY, and many meals will be shared among friends and family. It’s a happy tradition for both adults and kids alike, and togetherness is a central theme of the holiday—not to mention of the Chinese culture as a whole.
6. It’s a REAL holiday
Parades, firecrackers, and dragon dances are just a few ways to celebrate this bright and lively time. In some cities, it’s actually an observed holiday, San Francisco being one of them. You know what that means, don’t you? School’s out!
7. New Year, new wardrobe
In the old tradition, kids would have new outfits waiting for them at the foot of their beds just in time for the morning of the New Year to represent a fresh and clean start. Why not keep this awesome tradition alive and prepare a new outfit for the big day?
8. The Chinese zodiac is represented by…animals!
Whether you’re a horoscope fanatic or everyday skeptic, there’s no denying that the Chinese zodiac, based on 12 animals, is at least somewhat interesting and amusing. This year, 2014, is the year of the Horse. According to the zodiac, if you’re a horse, you’re a natural born leader, passionate, and a lover of freedom. Which animal are you?
Happy Year of the Horse and Gung Hay Fat Choy, jet setters!