What is Chinese New Year?

The Lunar New Year includes the celebrations for kicking off a brand new year in the Chinese lunar calendar and is celebrated by countries that have adopted this calendar including China, Japan (as a Spring festival), Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia and Tibet and others. In these countries, you can expect large public and family festivities. In China and countries with Chinese populations, Chinese New Year is traditionally a time of renewal and wishes for prosperity and longevity.

But in contrast to New Year’s resolutions to use the gym more, go out less, and maybe try out a new diet, Chinese New Year is all about food, family and partying with a little bit of ritual thrown in (backed up by thousands of years of tradition.)

Resolution 1: New year, new you.

A fresh start demands some fresh threads. Prior to New Year, it’s traditional to get some new clothes to celebrate the new year, as well as a fresh haircut before the festivities, to ring in the newness. For luck, many folks wear something red.

Resolution 2: Spend some QT with the family.

An important way to usher in a new year is to do what families (and friends) do best together: eat and drink, probably loudly. Starting with the Chinese New Year's Eve banquet, this is followed by days of visiting family and friends during the first few days of the new year. You go see relatives, pay respect to elders with gifts, welcome guests into your clean home, and get things started off right.

Resolution 3: Eat. A LOT.

It’s important to eat certain foods to maintain a level of auspiciousness heading into a new year. Among the long list of foods to consume: soup, buddhist delight noodles with symbolic ingredients, dumplings, whole chickens, fish for abundance, and noodles for longevity followed by sweets like Chinese glutinous rice cake (nian gao), candies, cookies, oranges, and nuts. A full belly in the new year invites a satisfying forthcoming year.

Resolution 4: Make some noise.

Long ago, it was said that a demon named Nian would descend on villages on the first day of the new year to eat crops, livestock and the occasional child. To scare away this demon, people lit loud fireworks and threw big parades in unity against the demons. These days, fireworks and parades are an important and very fun part of Chinese New Year celebrations and parades, and are symbolic of prosperity, happiness and ultimately, joy.

Top image: Vintage Mod Red Envelope

Bottom image: Firecrackers Red Envelope

What is your favorite part of celebrating Chinese New Year?

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