Nissa is a Canadian-born Chinese American who enjoys preparing for and celebrating the Lunar New Year.
As a Canadian-born Chinese American, the turn of the year is always elongated by Chinese New Year festivities, as our New Year's Celebrations follow the traditional lunar calendar and typically take place weeks after the first of January. My childhood memories of this special holiday are characterized by large family gatherings over tables of traditional foods; receiving and giving oranges and tangerines as signs of good luck and prosperity; receiving "lucky money" in little red envelopes to put under my mattress for good luck; attending and participating in Chinese New Year festivals and watching lion dances, martial arts and dance performances, and plays about Chinese history and mythology; and burning incense in honor of our ancestors, amongst other things.
The Chinese New Year (also known as the Lunar New Year) is probably the most well-known Chinese holiday and is celebrated globally by much of the Chinese and Asian diaspora and some other cultures. The festivities customarily begin on Lunar New Year's Eve (which this year falls on February 11th) and continue for the next 7 to 14 days, concluding with the Spring Lantern Festival.
The holiday marks the end of winter and beginning of spring, symbolically representing new beginnings and new life. At the Lantern Festival, it is customary for children to solve riddles written on paper lanterns that are usually red for good luck. The lanterns are released—sometimes into the air or a body of water—to represent letting go and starting anew.
Before the festivities begin, those who adhere to this tradition take several weeks to prepare. While in many parts of the world, people have already begun their new year in January, those who celebrate the Chinese New Year are still winding down and preparing for the turn of the season. Here are five auspicious ways to prepare for the Lunar New Year.
5 Ways to Get Ready for the Lunar New Year
1. Clean your house. The ritual of cleaning your house and getting rid of things that no longer serve you prepares you for a lucky new year. Do not clean for the first three days of the new year.
2. Buy new clothes and new shoes. Buy clothes and shoes to wear on the evening of New Year's Eve after bathing. These new items signify new beginnings, so be sure to purchase these items before the new year, as buying them during the new near is considered bad luck.
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3. Get a haircut. Along with new clothes and shoes, a new haircut signifies a new you and a new year. Again, don't get a haircut during the festival period, as that is considered unlucky.
4. Prepare your lucky money. Known as "lai si" in Cantonese (my native tongue), lucky money is customarily given by married couples to children, grandchildren, their siblings, and single people. It is stuffed in little red envelopes before being given. In my family tradition, we keep our lai si under our mattress for as long as possible for good luck and prosperity.
5. Plan a festive dinner for Lunar New Year's Eve. The New Year's Eve dinner is usually a big family dinner with traditional foods. Our family would often do potlucks or have Chinese hot pot. While it's customary to have the traditional Chinese dessert soup Tang Yuan on the night of the Lantern Festival, my father usually prepares Tang Yuan for us at midnight on Lunar New Year's Eve.
What You Should Know About 2021: The Year of the Metal Ox
Many of us are wondering what 2021—the Year of the Metal Ox—has in store for us. The New Lunar Year begins on February 12th, 2021, and goes until January 31st, 2022.
According to the Chinese Zodiac, the year is characterized by the element and animal it is assigned. The Ox is the second animal of the Chinese Zodiac and is characterized by its calm and calculated demeanor. Ox people are trustworthy, quiet, hardworking, have great strength, are naturally self-confident, and have a good sense of fairness. An Ox person (comparable to Taurus in the Western zodiac) may have the weakness of stubbornness. Because they are so fixated on their path, it can be difficult for them to be receptive to others' opinions.
For all signs, the year of the Metal Ox is an auspicious one. As Ox people are characterized by their patience, diligence, and hard work, the year is going to follow the phrase, "you reap what you sow." Keep a positive mental attitude, stay focused, and work hard, and your efforts will be rewarded.
The Year of the Metal Ox creates space and time for us to regroup, recover, and consolidate. This is a good year for long-term goal setting, financial planning, and getting your family affairs in order. This is also a harmonious year for relationships both intimate and platonic. Wear white and metal jewelry for good luck.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Nissa Tzun