Chinese New Year or “spring festival” is part of the Lunar Calendar and this year is the Year of the Pig (or Wild Boar) which is the 12th in the 12-year cycle of Chinese Zodiac signs.
Being from a dual heritage/mixed race family (English and Chinese) and living in Britain, I have always felt a longing to celebrate Chinese New Year. So whatever your background, here’s how to celebrate Chinese New Year… (And don’t worry it lasts for two weeks so you have plenty of time or if you’re prepared you can do it in the run-up).
How to celebrate Chinese New Year the traditional way (and what not to do):
- Clean your house: In the UK we typically have a Spring Clean anyway. So Chinese New Year is the perfect time to clean your home and declutter. This is traditionally done prior to Chinese New Year eve. It is a way to clean out the old year and welcome in the New Year. But make sure you do this on New Year’s Eve day or before because doing it on New Year’s Day is said to be sweeping out your good luck for the New Year.
- Shopping: Yes, it’s an excuse to shop and buy New Year’s clothes. A bit like Christmas in the west as there is a boom of shoppers for Chinese New Year. Plus make sure you wear red and gold (Chinese good luck colours… hence my wedding theme was these colours).
- Having your hair cut a few days in advance of Chinese New Year (cutting it on the day is supposed to represent cutting your life short).
- Family Dinner on Chinese New Year’s Eve: One of the most important things is to share a “reunion dinner” with family around the table. Chinese people tend to travel all over so that generations of family can share this meal together. They will also eat a range of “lucky dishes” such as dumplings, sticky rice cake/glutinous rice balls, spring rolls and fish. (Although people tend to opt for a Vegetarian breakfast on New Year’s Day as it’s thought to be bad luck to serve up dead animals).
- Giving Red Envelopes “Ang Pows”: Children receive ANg Pows traditionally after New Year’s Eve Dinner. And everyone stays up late to welcome in the New Year, often with fireworks and firecrackers at midnight to warn off bad spirits. It is said the louder the firecracker the more business and prosperity there will be for the New Year.
- On New Year’s Day, people wear their New Clothes to bring joy and eat a vegetarian breakfast (although not Congee which is supposed to signify poverty). Instead, fluffy white rice is often eaten.
My other ideas on how to celebrate Chinese New Year:
- Use it as a second chance at resetting and refocusing your western New Year goals.
- Make fortune cookies with your personalised fortune inside (these are great for Valentines Day too. Here’s a super simple recipe by BBC Good Food.
- Read the Chinese New Year story and re-enact with friends or the kids.
- Spend the two weeks of Chinese New Year seeing family and loved ones as much as you can. Whether it be for a cup of tea or food.
- Go to a Chinese New Year Show or celebration.
- Do Chinese New Year themed crafts, go to Yorkshire Families for some ideas.
So whatever you do this Chinese New Year, wishing you all a prosperous year full of health and happiness. Comment below how you’ll be celebrating.