A Little About Celebrating Chinese New Year

February 15 kicks off the 2021 Chinese New year, which lasts until January 21, 2022.  Based on the Lunar New Year, it is celebrated in Asian countries around the world, including China, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, and Tibet, as well as Chinese communities throughout the United States.

My daughter and her friends have a round-robin monthly movie night. This month they’ll be watching Mulan, eating fish, dumplings, and sticky rice cakes while celebrating the Chinese New Year!  My daughter is hosting and has spent many happy hours creating Chinese Lanterns, beautiful cut-outs, and banners with sayings on them as decorations. The theme was inspired by her Chinese language class. Of course the color red features prominently and that is because “red” traditionally means “good luck” especially accompanied with gold or black lettering or decoration. These are cheery and beautiful decorations and the pops of red are a beautiful contrast to the dead of winter we are experiencing!

Each Chinese Year is assigned an animal. This is based on the Chinese Lunar Zodiac. The Chinese Zodiac is a classification system that assigns animals and related attributes in a 12-year cycle based approximately on the orbital period of Jupiter. 2021 is the year of the Ox. According to tradition, people born during the year of the Ox are considered hard workers, intelligent and reliable. They don’t need to be center stage or demand praise are calm and make excellent leaders.

Happy Chinese New Year design background for banners, poster, greeting card and brochure. Photorealistic 3D rendering.

Celebrate Chinese New Year with Activities

  • On Chinese New Year, you’ll commonly see a calligraphy character on a square of red paper, hung in a diamond shape. The character, 福 [fú],  means good luck.
  • Red envelopes full of money- are traditionally gifted from an elder or parent to children, or to anyone who’s unmarried.
  • Firecrackers and fireworks are often set off throughout Lunar New Year, both to ward off an ancient monster called Nian,
  • The Lion Dance and Dragon Dance and gymnastic performances are an exciting part of a Lunar New Year parade

Chinese people playing lion dace on street during the lunar new year celebration.

Celebrate Chinese New Year with Traditions

  • Don’t cry or argue. Talk about happy things to set the tone for the future days.
  • Pay your debts before the New Year starts and avoid bad luck.
  • Don’t cut your hair or anything else on the Lunar New Year. It is believed that you’ll be severing connections.
  • Avoid wearing black or white as they are associated with mourning.
  • Don’t do laundry on the first or second day of the New Year. Avoid washing your hair too so that you do not wash your good fortune away.
  • Don’t sweep after Lunar New Year’s Eve; you’ll be sweeping away accrued wealth and luck.
  • Wear red to attract good luck.

Celebrate Chinese New Year with Lucky Foods to Make and Eat

  1. Fish – In Chinese, “fish” (鱼 Yú /yoo/) sounds like “surplus” and it’s believed that eating fish will bring an increase in prosperity.
  2. Chinese dumpling (饺子 Jiǎozi /jyaoww-dzrr/) – legends say that the more dumpling you eat during the New year celebrations, the more money you’ll make in the New Year.
  3. Glutinous rice cake (年糕 Niángāo /nyen-gaoww/) – symbolizes prosperity. The main ingredients of Nian Gao are sticky rice, sugar, chestnuts, Chinese dates, and lotus leaves.
  4. Good fortune fruit – tangerines and oranges (橙 chéng /chnng/), which sounds the same as the Chinese for “success” (成). They are selected as they are particularly round and “golden” in color symbolizing fullness and wealth.

As with many New Year traditions celebrated around the world, a deep and thorough house cleaning is in order. Getting rid of the old and treating oneself to new, particularly new clothes. Make sure those clothes are new to bring you good luck!

And share the New Year Celebration with those you love- family and friends- eating, giving red envelopes full of money and wishing each other good fortune and ( 新年好 Xīnnián hǎo) Happy New Year!

Studying a Foreign Language is such an excellent way to learn about cultures, geography, and people around the world. Learn more about our Chinese classes (Mandarin, simplified) Elementary, Middle School, Senior High. Chinese, along with Hebrew and Spanish,  is one of three Critical Languages taught live and online at True North Homeschool Academy. We offer Spanish, German, French, and Latin as well. Follow our page on Facebook or join our group where our academy students and teachers sometimes share how their foreign language classes have been inspired by the cultures we study and share your ideas for a Chinese New Year celebration!