A brief intro into one of the most celebrated holidays in the world!
It’s one of the most celebrated holidays in the world. The Chinese New Year falls on the first new moon between January 21 and February 20. For 2021, the date is February 12. The holiday signals the end of Winter and the start of Spring. The whole holiday lasts for fifteen days while the first three days are usually celebrated the most. Folks celebrate by setting off fireworks, hanging lighted lanterns and wearing bright colors (usually red and gold) to scare away the bad demons. It’s the time of year families get together from all around the world to honor their ancestors and You can find celebrations all over Southeast Asia and here in the United States.
2021 marks the Year of the Ox. Traditions say that the year of the Ox is a hopeful and fruitful year. The other animals in the Chinese Zodiac included Rat, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. Interested in learning more about the Chinese Zodiac, click here.
What to give…
The number one gift handed out during the Chinese New Year are the red envelopes known as Hóng Bāo. Inside the envelopes, money. Elders give envelopes to the young members of the family to pass along good fortune and blessings for the new year. In return, children give the Hóng Bāo to their parents and grand parents to show gratitude and a blessing of a long life. Some married couples might give the gift of luck by passing an envelope to their single friends. The numbers 6 and 8 are considered lucky so plan appropriately. The closer in relation to you, the more you should give.
Other gifts for the New Year include fruits (most notably oranges), cakes, chocolate and candies.
What to eat…
A traditional Reunion Dinner helps kick off the New Years festivities. The whole family gets together (much like Thanksgiving) the night before New Years to enjoy spring rolls, dumplings, noodles – the longer the noodle, the better. Also on the menu is steamed fish with the head and tail still attached. The head of the fish traditionally faces the eldest members of the family. Half is eaten that night, the other half the next day. Many often eat rice cakes (Nian gao) and sweet rice balls.
What to say…
Xin nian kuai le! (Mandarin for Happy New Year)
Sun nin fai lok (Cantonese for Happy New Year)
Gong hei fat choy! (Cantonese for Wishing You Prosperity and Good Fortune)
What Not to Do During Chinese New Year…
There are a few taboos to avoid during the Chinese New Year. According to chinesenewyear.net, don’t say negative words, don’t break glass or ceramics, and don’t give a clock. Avoid wearing black or white because of the symbolism of mourning and death. Also, do not leave chopsticks sticking up in a bed of rice. It resembles incense burning to remember the dead.
A few casinos and places in the Ark-La-Tex have hosted events in the past (although none in 2021 due to the pandemic). Chinese culture helps to shape the Ark-La-Tex and there are no better places to experience the rich culture and heritage than at the Multicultural Center of the South and at the Aseana Festivals.
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