Chinese New Year traditions to celebrate

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Chinese New Year Parade / Steve Rhodes / Flickr / (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

A Chinese lion gleams in the light, waiting to perform its dance.

Full of wild dances, loud fireworks, and other exciting festivities, it’s hard to believe that Chinese New Year started with an urban legend. Most of the Chinese New Year traditions are based on the story of Nian, a terrible monster who terrorized a village around the new year. Chinese New Year is not only a significant holiday to celebrate the lunar new year but also a way to spend time with family. Chinese New Year starts on the first day of the first month in the Lunar calendar, so if you’re looking for something fun to do this upcoming February, try some Chinese New Year traditions with your family this year!

Chinese New Year by Micah Cheng

Cooking dishes for your family:

Traditionally, Chinese New Year’s Eve involves a big dinner surrounded by family with lots of dishes, each with significant meanings such as wealth and luck. Some commonly found foods include dumplings, fish, spring rolls, and sweet rice balls. Improve your cooking skills by creating some delicious and fun dishes.

Learn your Chinese zodiac: 

Did you know that Chinese people have a yearly horoscope that originated from an ancient legend? Each year symbolizes a different animal: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, dog, and pig. At the end of the 12 years, the order resets again back to the year of the rat. Every animal also has different fortunes and predictions, similar to the western zodiac. If you enjoy reading your own horoscopes, you should definitely find your Chinese zodiac.

Watching lion dances and fireworks:

One of the most unique traditions of Chinese New Year is lion dances. Chinese festivals have shows for people with lion dances and flashy fireworks during the 15 days of Chinese New Year. Operated by two people inside a lion, the dances are a tradition to bring good luck. The lion dances pair naturally with fireworks in Chinese street parades, which are a great way to experience the rigorous energy of the new year.

Wearing and decorating with the color red:

Red is very significant in Chinese culture since it symbolizes good fortune and joy. It’s used in many crafts and traditions, such as spring couplets, red envelopes, and lanterns. However, each different craft has a different purpose. Spring couplets are handwritten Chinese characters on red paper with well wishes and hung around the house later on. Red envelopes are filled with money and are gifts for children given by parents and grandparents for good luck. You can also try wearing red, the easiest way to celebrate Chinese New Year.