Chinese New Year is the biggest social holiday in the Chinese culture. Just as the New Year in the U.S. celebrates the beginning of a new calendar year, along with other traditions, the Chinese New Year celebrates the beginning of a new year based on the lunar-solar Chinese calendar. Each year is represented by an animal sign that predicts what the coming year will be like. There are 12 different animal signs that rotate each year, including the horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, pig, rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon and snake. Similar to a zodiac sign, the year in which you were born becomes your animal sign, and each sign is said to have different strengths and weaknesses or personalities.
The upcoming Chinese New Year falls on Monday, February 8th this year, and will become the year of the monkey. There are many traditions that the Chinese culture follows when celebrating Chinese New Year. While you may not be able to celebrate exactly like the Chinese, you can host your own Chinese New Year celebration with your friends and family and begin some of your own traditions. Here are a few ways you can celebrate the Chinese New Year this year!
Cleanse your home and welcome the New Year with red decorations.
In the days leading up to the Chinese New Year, it is customary to partake in a deep cleaning of the home. The Chinese like to welcome the New Year with a fresh start, and to rid of the misfortune and make way for good luck. This includes eliminating any items or furniture from the home that may be old and tainted.
To celebrate the Chinese New Year, on the day before the New Year, go through your home and get rid of anything that is broken, old, or too dirty to clean. You can also include your clothing and accessories. It may feel good to get rid of a bunch of stuff lying around your home in order to make room for the new things to come. Out with the old and in with the new!
After cleaning, the Chinese begin decorating the home in order to welcome the New Year. Traditionally, red decorations are used in order to welcome the New Year because red is a symbol of good fortune, happiness, wealth and longevity. There is also an old Chinese legend that states red is supposed to protect against bad spirits and negativity. Decorate your home with red decorations for your Chinese New Year celebration. Paper lanterns are a popular Chinese decoration, so hang numerous red and gold paper lanterns from you ceiling. These should be hung above the dining table, because a dinner is the primary celebration of the Chinese New Year.
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For more decoration, place Chinese New Year cutouts on the walls of your party space to depict the 12 animal signs of the Chinese calendar. You can also hang a red Chinese symbol garland above the entranceway of your home or dining area. Because it is the year of the goat, you can incorporate that into your party décor, as well.
Invite friends and family over for a reunion dinner.
As previously mentioned, a dinner is the primary celebration of the Chinese New Year. This requires the immediate, as well as extended, family of the father to join in a reunion dinner the evening before the Chinese New Year. Invite a few friends over for a scrumptious Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner in your home. Set up a dining table that you can all join around. Use a plain white table cloth and set a red Chinese table runner down the middle.
To decorate your dining table, set candles all down the center of the table. This will create an intimate atmosphere that will be perfect for your Chinese New Year dinner party. You can also set out some Chinese flower centerpieces. Use flowers that are popular in the Chinese culture, such as plum blossoms—which are in season during the winter--, peonies, chrysanthemums, orchids, and more. Try to find white or red flowers to match the rest of your party décor. To finish off your Chinese New Year decorations, sprinkle Chinese coins all along the table. These coins symbolize good luck, and will hopefully send some your way for you and your loved ones this coming year!
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Typically the Chinese New Year’s Eve reunion dinner consists of fish or dumplings. However, you can serve both at your party! Serve dumplings as an appetizer, and prepare a fish entrée for the dinner. Provide rice and soup as side dish options. Serve your Chinese cuisine on white or gold dishware. Or, if you want to make it easy on yourself, serve your meal on Chinese New Year paper plates! Simply toss them at the end of the meal for a quick and easy cleanup. Set out a pair of chopsticks next to each plate for your guests to eat with.
Launch fireworks and exchange gifts of money.
Usually after the reunion dinner, family members will exchange gifts of money. These are typically given to the young from the elderly. The money is presented in red pouches to restrain the evil from reaching the children and keep them healthy and living. Gift each of your guests with a red money envelope to bring them good fortune in the coming year!
The last activity that occurs during the Chinese New Year celebration is the lighting of fireworks. It is also believed that fireworks ward off evil. Typically fireworks are lit once the clock strikes midnight, and whoever lights the first firework of the year will be awarded with the best luck. Launch some small firecrackers in your backyard—if there’s space—to end the night on a good note. If you don’t have a large enough yard for fireworks, light some sparklers instead.
At Windy City Novelties, it’s our hope that this article inspires you to create a fun and unique party for your loved ones. For more helpful tips on organizing your event, email our dedicated party planning experts at [email protected]. You may also subscribe to our emails for weekly party planning ideas, featured products and more at https://www.windycitynovelties.com/customer/account/create/