Chinese New Year begins today. This two week celebration presents the opportunity to learn and celebrate Chinese Culture. Don’t worry if you are not Chinese, here are a couple of tips on How to celebrate Chinese New Year even if you are not Chinese.
I love Chinese New Year. Why? Because I love any reason to celebrate hope and new beginnings. And that’s what the New Year (Chinese or otherwise) is about. So even though I’m not Chinese my family has it’s own way of celebrating Chinese New Year.
So Chinese New Year is based on the Chinese Lunar Calendar. Each Chinese New Year is associated with one of 12 animals from the Chinese Zodiac Signs. 2018 is the Year of the Dog. Everyone seems excited about the year of the dog. The Met is celebrating with a special exhibit.
My auntie (don’t look at me that way) clarified that despite how we indulge in pork buns and dumplings when we celebrate together, New Year’s Eve is typically brought in with vegetarian dishes. But to be honest the food is not why we celebrate the New Year. We celebrate the New Year to encourage our children to embrace people’s differences and cultures. So, what I’m sharing are some of our favorite dishes and activities to help you and your family celebrate Chinese New Year.
How To Celebrate Chinese New Year Even if you are not Chinese
I’d be lying if I said food wasn’t a major part of celebrating Chinese New Year. Though we love dumplings there are foods that are considered lucky and that are expected at family dinner.Some staples around the table other than pork buns are pork dumplings, noodles (longevity) whole steamed fish and of course rice. And you can’t forget a delicious sweet dessert. We typically choose sweet sesame seed balls or walnut cookies (I love walnut cookies). But I came across a yummy looking recipe for a Chinese New Year Cake from Pressure Cooker Recipes dot com. A lot of Chinese recipes work well in the pressure cooker because the pressure cooker simulates that long simmer that Chinese recipes have.
Though a lot of business are using the year of the dog to shop their wares there are so many ways for you to make the most of the New Year without purchasing anything. My sons and I decided to kick off the new year making origami dogs. It was a great activity that was really fun. It was the cutest thing to see them run around with their little dogs going “ruff ruff.” Though my littles didn’t quite get the folding aspect they did have fun. And it was great to have that quality time with them.
I love that in China stores close for the two week period to celebrate the New Year. It’s the ultimate quality time with your family. Fill your home with meat, fruits, rice and vegetables and just luxuriate in the warmth of your family. It’s just like New Year in the United States. You shop, clean and cook two days before the new year. Then invite friends and family over to enjoy their company and good food.
Of course, we can’t take to weeks off to just cuddle but you can have your own little celebration. Buy some fresh flowers and fruit and practice your calligraphy or origami dogs. Whip out your gold and black calligraphy pens (yes, I’m talking to you) and practice writing good luck. Once you’ve got it the way you want it, place it on your door and let the good luck (blessings) flow in.
One tradition you may be familiar with (or have seen) are the red envelopes filled with lucky money. My oldest little loves the Chinese New Year, Kai-lan book. Though there are lots of other books about Chinese New Year. Red envelopes are also a great way to teach your children about giving. One of the books we read leading up to Chinese New Year “San and the Lucky Money” encouraged children to give to those less fortunate.
Of course, there are tons of festivities outside the home. If you are in New York and can take a minute, there will be fireworks on the Hudson River as well as many other activities to celebrate Chinese New Year. If you’re on the West Coast, Los Angeles will have it’s 119th (wow) Golden Dragon Parade on Saturday. No worries my Texas friends there’s something for you too. But Texas doesn’t have it’s big Howdy Do to the Lunar New Year until February 24, 2018.
The holidays not present the opportunity to spend time with family and friends but also to learn about different cultures. To be grateful of what you have and to do for others. It’s part of why though I’m not Chinese, I love to celebrate Chinese New Year. Nope, it’s not just about the food. LOL.
Feel free to share this post. There are loads of other crafts, activities and recipes on the blog and the El’s Kitchen Comforts Facebook page. So …. are you going to celebrate the New Year with us? Share your pics of your crafts and yummy bites and tag me on Instagram @els.kitchencomforts or twitter @elskitchencmfrt.