Chinese New Year is determined by the Chinese lunar calendar and falls in between January and February.
Gung Hey Fat Choy! Today, January 31st, marks the beginning of Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year lasts 15 days. 2014 is the Year of the Horse. Those ready for the warmer weather will be very happy to know that Chinese New Year is also called the Spring Festival.
We love celebrating Chinese New Year. Learning about other cultures is so interesting. Here are six fun and creative ways you can also celebrate the new year.
1. Spring Cleaning
Welcome the good luck in by sweeping your home clean. Cleaning your home the first morning of Chinese New Year is a tradition. Make this the year that you throw away those store bought cleaners and freshen up your home with my 10 favorite natural cleaning solutions.
Don’t forget about yourself, too! It is traditional to take care of yourself on the first day of the new year — perhaps a new haircut will do the trick.
2. A Chinese Dinner Celebration
Now that your home is nice and clean you can think about inviting guests! One of the most important ways to celebrate Chinese New Year is by hosting a dinner party for your family and friends. This can be as easy as setting up a reservation at your favorite Chinese restaurant. We love Chinese restaurants that have round tables with a lazy Susan in the middle. Our family always orders a few items to share. You can also order take out from your favorite Chinese restaurant and invite friends over to enjoy the meal with you. We love creating a special menu for our family and friends. For dessert I always make my Chinese almond cookies, but my favorite thing to do is to make custom fortune cookies.
Last year our family celebrated Chinese New Year with a big celebration which included some of our close friends, favorite recipes and traditions.
You can read about those recipes, party ideas and the history of Chinese New Year in that post. Some of our other favorite recipes are Mongolian Beef, Chicken and Broccoli, Honey-Glazed Chicken, egg rolls, and fried rice.
Chinese New Year is accompanied by a belief in good fortune and there are many decorations around to herald the New Year.
I made these custom fortune cookies for my son and daughter-in-love’s rehearsal dinner. For Chinese New Year you can print out well wishes and greetings for your friends and family:
- May this happy new year bring blessings, peace, love and happiness for you and your family.
- May all your dreams come true in 2014!
- Wishing you a very successful Chinese New Year.
- Wishing a very happy and joyful year ahead.
3. Visiting Family and Friends
Visiting family and friends at their homes is a Chinese tradition enjoyed during the two weeks of Chinese New Year. Gathering and spending some time remembering your past is a great way to celebrate and appreciate your future. Connecting and sharing the celebrations together is the most important part of the New Year.
4. Visit or Organize Your Own Parade
Parades are full of excitement and therefore are very important during Chinese New Year. Firecrackers, activities and dragon dancers make these parades super exciting, colorful and beautiful to watch. Each year our family would disguise ourselves in homemade dragon and lion costumes and then we organized a parade which involved our whole neighborhood. Our children and their friends loved doing this! A five clawed dragon used to be worn by emperors on their clothes and they also wore yellow and other people were forbidden from doing so. Nowadays you can wear yellow and dragons too, as it’s not only for royalty. The Chinese also believe that lions and dragons scare off the bad spirits like the firecrackers, and the dragon dance and lion dance are an important part of the Chinese New Year.
My son Nate loved leading the dragon. All of the children became part of the dragon and “danced” or paraded it around our neighborhood. Both homemade and traditional noisemakers were a big part of the celebration.
5. Take a Trip to the Library Trip
Local library visits with my chidlren are some f my favorite memories. We would sometiems walk out of their with 50 or more books at a time.
Visit your local library and take out books like our family favorite, The Empty Pot or:
Tikki Tikki Tembo
DK’s Ancient China
The King of Dragons by Carol Fenner
China’s long March by Jean Fritz
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr
Dear America: the Journal of Wong Ming-Chung
Red Scarf Girl by Ji Li Jiang
A memoir of Cultural revolution
Dragonwings by Lawrence Yep
Dragon’s Gate by Lawrence Yep
6. Arts & Crafts: Paper
Having been a homeschooling family for over twenty years we were always breaking out the arts and crafts. Paper is believed to have been invented by Ts’ai Lun almost 2,ooo years ago in China. Chinese paper was a mixture of rags and plant fiber. The boys and I used to make this paper. We also loved making origami and making cranes were one of my son Nathaniel’s favorite things to do.
So get to celebrating. We’d love to see your pictures posted on our facebook page!
Gung Hey Fat Choy to you all!