How to celebrate Lunar New Year

On 10 February, people around the world will celebrate the start of the Lunar New Year and the upcoming year of the dragon.

The event is normally 15 days long and follows the phases of the moon as it begins with the first new moon of the lunar calendar and ends with a full moon. Each year is meant to honour one of the 12 Chinese zodiacs including: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

Lunar New Year is also known as the “Spring Festival,” as it also commemorates the end of winter and the beginning of the spring, hence the themes focusing on revival, renewal and rejuvenation.

The festivities typically include fireworks and many family gatherings to start as fresh as possible. But if you’re looking for other ideas, here are some ways people tend to celebrate Lunar New Year.

How do people prepare for good fortune in the New Year?

A couple of days leading up to the start of the new year, people tend to thoroughly clean their living spaces as a way to clean out any bad luck that may have occurred over the past year. Another word of advice is to pay off any debts that are lingering over from the prior year as a way to avoid having anything unnecessary carrying over from one year to the next. In Chinese culture, this could go as far as avoiding borrowing or lending any money during Lunar New Year, as it is believed it may result in a year filled with financial struggles.

Another common tradition is to wear the colour red, which is meant to symbolise good fortune and joy, and which follows the theme of avoiding bad luck. To some, this also means making sure that their outfits are completely brand new, in case any of their old clothes are carrying any bad luck. People also tend to decorate their homes in red as well with paper lanterns and wall hangings.

In Chinese culture, people often receive red envelopes called “hong bao” in Mandarin that are filled with money as a symbol of good luck. These envelopes are typically given to children, family members, friends, and employees.

There are also a couple of superstitions that certain cultures have advocated for avoiding on either New Year’s Day, 10 February, or for the entire 15-day celebration period.

The Chinese character for hair is the same as the first character in the word prosper. Because of this, some people say you should avoid cutting or changing your hair on either the first day of the month or during Lunar New Year at all. Although this tradition has been tweaked before by some who only abide by the rule of the first day of the holiday.

Some who celebrate the Lunar New Year also avoid buying or giving away books. The Chinese word for book is pronounced the same way as the word lose, so some believe that buying books for yourself or others can forecast bad luck for the upcoming year. However, it is completely acceptable to buy books before the 15-day period, or you can read the books you may already have.

What foods are eaten on Lunar New Year?

There are many commonly eaten foods that are associated with the celebration at the start of the new year.

Dumplings are a well-known Chinese New Year staple, as they are given the exact same name in Mandarin as the currency used during the Ming Dynasty. Because they share the same name as money, it is believed that eating them will bring good fortune. Some parents even hide a coin inside a dumpling on Chinese New Year’s Eve for a child to find.

In Chinese communities, people also eat glutinous rice balls, which are tiny round desserts that are filled with red bean, sesame, peanut, and other sweet fillings that are very similar to mochi.

Certain parts of China also eat what translates to “long-life noodles” or “longevity noodles.” These noodles can be as long as two feet and are served uncut, either fried or submerged in a broth. Symbolically, the longer the noodle you eat, the longer you’ll live. According to superstition, care must be taken not to cut the noodle while cooking so you don’t accidentally cut your lifeline short.