Yes, the Lunar New Year has already passed (it was February 12) and the Year of the Ox is already upon us. How people celebrate the Lunar New Year varies greatly across the world. But I’m here to introduce some Chinese traditions that I have observed growing up as a Chinese American in the U.S.
- The Color Red
- In Chinese culture, red is an extremely lucky color. You may have seen that every celebratory message for the New Year is decorated and splashed with the color red. We wear red to bring good luck and good fortune to the new year. We hang up red decorations to welcome the new year. We hand out money in red packets. Red is an important color.
- Good Fortune
- Chinese culture is big on good fortune and getting riches. When we greet each other during the New Year, we will say “Happy New Year” (“新年快乐“- xin nian kuai le). However, we will often follow this up with “Wishing you a prosperous New Year” (“恭喜发财”- gong xi fa cai). We like to wish good wealth and good health whenever possible, and this is particularly important for the New Year.
- Red Packets
- The favorite of young children: money. This again connects to good fortune.
- Food, food, and more food
- Is there anything better than good food? The answer is no. From dumplings to duck, Chinese dinners during the New Years are especially delicious and filling. Plus, you get to eat it with your family and just have fun in general.
- The New Years’ Gala
- The gala is a yearly event that occurs in China. It usually features many different acts from skits to singing to dancing and martial arts. It’s usually entertaining to watch but hard to access in America.
- Going Home
- In Chinese culture, family holds great value. It is tradition during the New Year to pack up and go home to your family. During the New Years’ Gala, there are always loads of commercials and videos about “回家过年“ (hui jia guo nian- going home to celebrate the New Year). They’re actually pretty nostalgic.
- Eastern Zodiac
- Based on animals and cycling through a 12-year cycle, the Eastern zodiac is just as interesting as their Western counterparts. Also, there’s a legend on why the animals are in the order that they are. Plus, each one has its own horoscope and stuff too.
Happy Year of the Ox! Here’s to good fortune next year!