On January 28 people all across Canada and the rest of the world will usher in the lunar or Chinese New Year. This year we’ll be heading into the Year of the Rooster. You don’t have to be of Chinese heritage to celebrate the Chinese New Year, you just have to have an appreciation for tradition, good food, and the concept of good fortune. Here are some things you can do to celebrate the occasion:
Clean your house before the big day
It’s considered symbolic give your home a thorough cleaning before the lunar New Year — to sweep out the bad luck, if you will. Then, put away your broom on New Year’s Eve and don’t bring it out again for the first two days of the New Year — you don’t want to sweep away the good luck earned from other New Year traditions.
Decorate your house in red
Add some red accents to your home in the form of throw pillows, flowers, paper lanterns, plastic firecrackers, intricate paper cutouts (look for some in your city’s Chinatown or in an Asian market), and other decorations. The red is considered good luck and is believed to invite positive energy into your home for the year.
Buy some red envelopes
Buy some red envelopes (again, if you live in a city with a Chinatown, they should be easy to find) and fill them with small amounts of money to give as gifts. It’s traditional for parents to give these envelopes to their children. Be sure to use new, crisp bills to symbolize the New Year.
Plan a symbolic meal
Food is a big part of the entire Chinese New Year celebration (in China people generally celebrate for two weeks) but traditionally the biggest meal is often served on New Year’s Eve. Like the rest of lunar New Year celebrations, there is symbolism and luck in everything that hits the table. Traditional Chinese New Year foods include whole fish, dumplings, sweet rice balls, spring rolls, oranges, glutinous rice cake, and longevity noodles.
Put together a tray of togetherness
A “tray of togetherness” is a tray consisting of eight compartments to be filled with treats to be enjoyed with your family. Again, each item is symbolic as it represents a form of luck. Typically the trays will feature items like coconut, peanuts, watermelon seeds, lychee, lotus seeds, kumquat, candied melon, and longan. Other candied fruits or vegetables are often used. The tray can be placed on the coffee table in your living room or another central location so that visiting family and other guests can indulge.
Look for celebrations in your community
If you live in a place with a significant Chinese-Canadian population, there very likely will be some public celebrations that you can attend. Mark your calendar and go out to watch the parades and lion and dragon dancing. It’s a great way to learn about Chinese cultural traditions.