8 Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year
This post was sponsored by Ling Ling, all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
Are you looking for tips on how to celebrate Chinese New Year? This post has you covered! You’ll learn some great Chinese New Year activities, Chinese New Year food, and so much more!
When I was almost four years old, my parents packed my brothers and me up and moved us all the way around the globe to Taiwan. We spent six years living there and, honestly, they were some of the best years of my life. I loved growing up in a little Asian village, being engulfed in a rich culture, and standing out with my blonde ringlets. While I have many memories of my years in Taiwan, some of my fondest memories revolve around Chinese New Year. It was such a special holiday and the whole country celebrated in grandiose ways!
Caleb is currently a little older than I was when we moved to Taiwan and I’m beginning to realize how… well… American his life is. I know there’s nothing wrong with being American but I don’t want my boys to grow up thinking America is all there is in the world. I want them to learn about other cultures, people who do things differently than them, and traditions they might never normally come in contact with. I want to start now with teaching them about the world and Chinese New Year is a fun place to start!
How to Celebrate Chinese New Year
Clean and Decorate Your House
If you’re like me, the cleaning part of this step isn’t your favorite but make sure not to skip it! There are a ton of superstitions that go along with Chinese New Year (more on those later) and one of them is cleaning the home. It is believed that, by cleaning your home, you are “sweeping away bad luck.” A clean house allows good luck to start entering it again as well. It’s kind of an out with the bad and in with the good mentality and I can get behind that! Just make sure you don’t start your cleaning after New Years has begun. If you do, you’ll be sweeping away the good luck that has already entered your home. Fifteen days of no cleaning? Count me in!
Once your house is clean, it’s time to decorate. Basically you just want to smother your house in red. Red is the color of good luck in Chinese cultures so, by decorating with that color, you are covering your house in luck. Red paper lanterns are commonly used as decorations, along with calligraphy banners, and live plants (cut plants represent severing good luck so stay away from them!).
Have Fun with the Superstitions
If you couldn’t tell from the point above, the Chinese culture is full of superstitions and many of those have ties to Chinese New Year. While I’m not a superstitious person, I think traditions like these are fun so I enjoy taking part!
Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Ling Ling Chinese New Year event in Seattle, Washington. We got to learn a ton about Chinese New Year traditions, including many of their superstitions from Chef Katie Chin. It was so fun hearing parts of her and her mom’s life stories. Her mom came to Minnesota from Hong Kong and went from being a seamstress to opening a restaurant! After realizing her life wasn’t headed in the trajectory she wanted, Chef Katie started a catering business and cultural cooking show with her mom and has been cooking ever since!
Some of the traditions Chef Katie shared with us were fascinating!
- Don’t wash your hair on New Years day or you will wash away your good luck
- Don’t use sharp objects like knives or scissors or you will cut off all the good luck for the coming year
- Don’t swear or scold kids or you’ll have more argument in the new year
- Don’t lend money or you’ll be lending money for the rest of the year
- Don’t break things (even on accident) or you’ll have bad luck with money
Dress for the Occasion
I know, I know, more superstition… But, once again, it’s fun! Definitely don’t wear black or white on Chinese New Year because those are the Chinese funeral colors and would beckon death. The best color to wear is red because, once again, red is the color of luck! Some other fun traditions are to step into new shoes and wear new clothes for Chinese New Year to start the year off right. Any reason to go shopping, amiright? It’s also good to get a fresh haircut for Chinese New Year!
Travel to Visit Family
If your family is Chinese or wants to celebrate the holiday with you, it’s a part of Chinese New Year tradition to travel to visit family for the holiday. This is especially good to remember if family lives far away. In China, many businesses even close down for the holiday so employees can have time off to visit family.
Even if your family doesn’t want to (or know how to) celebrate Chinese New Year with you, it wouldn’t hurt to go visit them anyway. We’re not fortunate enough to live close to either side of our extended family so, even if we don’t visit them during Chinese New Year, the holiday is a good reminder to work a trip into our schedule at some point.
Do A Chinese New Year Activity
My boys love doing projects so I always try to work some sort of activity into our holiday plans. While at the Ling Ling event, we got a chance to create some gorgeous and easy cherry blossom paintings that Caleb begged me to let him recreate. And don’t you worry, I’ll have the instructions for you on Thursday so make sure you come back to check them out!
If you’re not into that project, there are so many others you could try. Create a dragon mask, make red paper lanterns, try your hand at Chinese calligraphy… The Chinese New Year activity options are endless.
Eat Traditional Chinese New Year Food
Now we’re getting to the good part! I am all about the food! Since I grew up eating traditional Chinese food, I am pretty picky about the dishes I eat. My family can only go to certain Chinese restaurants because I just can’t do the fake stuff. One of my favorite simple and convenient (because, let’s be real, I don’t have time to spend hours in the kitchen) Asian dishes to prepare are Ling Ling potstickers! I love the Ling Ling brand because they provide authentic Asian recipes that are bursting with flavor! These dishes are full of high quality, clean ingredients and use fresh sourced vegetables and savory proteins. They’re absolutely perfect for families and the signature dipping sauce that comes with the Ling Ling potstickers is my favorite!
While I was at the Ling Ling event in Seattle, I got to chow down on potstickers and it made the event that much better! Chef Katie also taught us how to make a few traditional Chinese side dishes to go along with the potstickers. All these dishes are perfect for celebrating Chinese New Year!
Chinese Long Beans with Cashews
- 1 Pound Chinese Long Beans
- 2 Tablespoons Oil
- 2 Cloves Minced Garlic
- 2 Tablespoons Hoisin Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Oyster Sauce
- 2 Ounces Roasted Cashews
- Trim Chinese long beans and cut into two inch pieces
- Cook the long beans in boiling water until tender crisp, about two minutes. Transfer the beans with a slotted spoon to an ice bath until cool (approximately two minutes). Drain and set aside.
- Pour the oil in a wok or skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the green beans and stir-fry for two minutes. Add the garlic, Hoisin sauce and oyster sauce and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
- Dish out and garnish with roasted cashews. Serve immediately!
Spicy Garlicky Asian Eggplant
- 4 Asian Eggplants
- 2 Teaspoons Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Oyster Sauce
- 1 Teaspoon Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Dark Sesame Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Oil
- 2 Cloves Minced Garlic
- 2 Hot Red Chili Peppers Seeded and Thinly Sliced
- 2 Tablespoons Water
- Cut eggplant in half lengthwise and then diagonally into 1/2 inch slices
- Cover eggplant with water and add the salt. Stir to dissolve the salt. Allow eggplant to soak for five minutes then drain well.
- While eggplant is soaking, in a small bowl combine the oyster sauce, sugar, and sesame oil.
- Heat the oil in a wok of skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, chili peppers, and eggplant. Stir-fry for two minutes. Add two tablespoons of water and continue stir-frying for two more minutes. Add the oyster sauce mixture and stir well to mix.
- Dish out and serve immediately.
Read Books About Chinese New Year
Since we’re discussing ways to celebrate Chinese New Year with kids, it’s important to help them really understand the holiday. Reading to them is a great way to help them start understanding the holiday. I love going to my local library and finding books about every topic imaginable. Our library has kids non-fiction and fiction books about how to celebrate Chinese New Year and my boys and I have already been loving reading through the books and talking about the holiday.
Give Out Red Envelopes
Growing up, one of my favorite parts about Chinese New Year was getting Red Envelopes. These envelopes are given to children and unmarried people and have money in them! This money is considered lucky. Caleb is getting old enough to understand the concept of money now so I think this year will be his first year of getting a red envelop of his own! If only I could figure out a way for people to give me lucky money still…
Set Off Firecrackers
Setting off fireworks is a fun Chinese New Year tradition! Once again, this tradition is wrapped in superstition because the loud noises firecrackers produce is thought to ward off the evil spirits. This might annoy your neighbors but do it anyway. #YOLO
What do you do to celebrate Chinese New Year?
Any Chinese New Year activities I missed?
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