One of the most exciting parts about learning about other cultures is learning about their holidays and festivities. Holidays that are widely celebrated in America are not so widely celebrated in all areas of the earth. Likewise, huge celebrations in other countries may or may not be a huge deal in America. For instance, right now, China is in the middle of celebrating their biggest and most cherished holiday, Chinese New Year. Being honest, prior to dating a Chinese guy, I never heard of Chinese New Year. But after being with him for a short period of time I learned that this holiday was a pretty huge deal for billions of people. Whether you want to surprise some special Chinese people in your life, or you’re just looking for a reason to Celebrate, keep reading to find out all about Chinese New Year and how to celebrate it.
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All About Chinese New Year
When Is It?
This year it is 2/16/2018, which is Friday.
What Is It?
Chinese New Year is a popular holiday celebrated throughout various Asian countries. The holiday is also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year. I’m sure each country celebrates differently. However, I’m writing this with all of my information coming from Chinese, therefore, I’m going to continue referring to it as Chinese New Year. To continue, in China, there are two calendars. There is a modern calendar and a traditional calendar. The date of the celebration is based on the on the moon. The celebration occurs the day that the full moon occurs between January 21st and February 20th.
There is a 12-year cycle that goes along with the Chinese New Year. Each of the twelve years is represented by an animal zodiac. The time of your birth determines your animal zodiac. My zodiac is the Cow. There was a bit of a misunderstanding when my boyfriend called me his pretty cow. Anyway, the Chinese New Year is an extra special time when it occurs on your zodiac. You can check out your zodiac here to see if your zodiac represents this Chinese New Year. This year is the year of the Dog. I’m so loving this year because all of the Chinese New Year decorations have cute puppies all over them.
How it is Celebrated in China
One of the biggest aspects of Chinese New Year is spending time with the family. It literally sparks one of the biggest yearly migrations as millions of people travel around to their hometowns to see their families. Almost everyone gets at least a 7-day break from work. That time is spent braving the crowded Chinese highspeed trains and airports in order to visit as many relatives as possible. As you go to visit relatives you swap gifts like fruit, cigarettes, wine, tea, clothes, etc. Children are given red envelopes with money in them from their elders. My boyfriend told me that during the week of Chinese New Year his grandfather doesn’t even close his door because so many people are coming in and out of his house. Families often spend their time playing poker or the traditional Chinese game, Mahjong.
Chinese New Year is the time to indulge huge meals comprised of Chinese delicacies. In most families, Chinese dumplings are eaten. The dumplings are filled with pork, veggies, beef, chicken, and seafood. The dumplings are then dipped in vinegar and special Chinese sauces. (In America Chinese dumplings are often called pot stickers). Noodles, rice, and a variety of other things are served with the dumplings. Fish is also a really popular thing to eat during Chinese New Year because fish represents bringing in extra cash. It’s a very superstitious thing that has simply become a nice tradition.
There is a countdown until 12 just like normal New Year. It is televised and there are celebrities and concerts going on. When it does turn 12 fireworks erupt all over China, creating the prettiest firework display you’ll ever see. Of course, there is a lot of hugging and well wishes being wished.
How You Can Celebrate Chinese New Year
Now it’s your turn to take this opportunity to celebrate! You can make Chinese New Year a fun and cultural education experience for your friends, family, and children.
Making Chinese dumplings is a very tricky process. You can always find recipes online, or you can buy frozen Chinese dumplings and make them that way. Either way, making steamed dumplings is a big part of celebrating Chinese New Year. Make sure you have little bowls of vinegar you can dip the dumplings into. Along with that make some fried rice, or even ramen noodles. You could also order carryout from a local Chinese Restaurant or Panda Express. Make sure you try eating your meal with chopsticks!
It’s really common to have wine and alcohol during Chinese New Years and to make toasts to your family and loved ones. If you’re not into alcohol, you can always use sparkling grape juice. If you have a local place that serves Boba Tea you could always order some of that and celebrate with a fun and traditional Asian beverage.
Things to Do
You can spend some time playing card games or learning to play Mahjong tiles. Mahjong is a pretty intricate Chinese game. It’s not for people who don’t like to think. But if you’re up for a challenge, or like games that require a lot of thinking mahjong might be a game you can find yourself getting into. Of course, you can play any other board game too. In my post talking about normal calendar New Year, I talked about some great party games. Anything to make the night a little bit more fun!
Also, one of the key parts of Chinese New Year is giving red envelopes. The giving of red envelopes is a very traditional thing that is done all throughout China. There are all kinds of red envelopes decorated with Chinese characters and this year, puppies. Put some cash in the red envelopes and hand them out to the people you are celebrating with. Typically red envelopes are given to those younger than you. But I gave my boyfriend a red envelope with a membership to the USTA as a Christmas gift. And I will give him another one with tournament information as a Valentine’s Day Gift. He was surprised, and he loved it. You can get the cutest red envelopes on Amazon for actually pretty cheap.
I hope you enjoyed this post about Chinese New Year. If you liked it, please check out my other posts about China.
Let me know in the comments if you celebrate Chinese New Year, or if there is a unique holiday that you celebrate that isn’t too common in America.