2013 is the Year of the Snake and I was born during the year of the Dog. What is your Chinese zodiac sign?! Since Chinese New Year (or as others know it, Asian New Year or Lunar New Year) is on Sunday, February 10th, there are tons of things to do and prepare…and even tons of things on the DO NOT do list! I pick and choose the things that I like during this time because I don't want Kiggster to lose her culture but I also know I can't keep up with all the traditions (though with some things, I see them more as superstition but depending on who you talk to, you could get a different answer)! Mostly I do things for fun and I want it to be that way for Kiggster too as she learns about her culture. So, ever wonder why during CNY (Chinese New Year), if you walk through Chinatown, you see a pattern between all the stores, vendors, and homes?! Below is a cliff notes version of some of the things that could help you get one step closer to understanding the customs, traditions, and fun behind CNY!
Food: Everything that is eaten during this time has significance. I was going to type you out a list but found one that pretty much summed up a lot of the things I was typing so come check out TLC's 10 Chinese New Year Food Superstitions…there are actually more but hey, knowing 10 is better than none right?! There is one that is already on the list but I had to share a personal story with you about it! Lotus Seeds-oh, this one will come into play the moment you are married…or sometimes even when you are just dating. They say you are going to be blessed with a many babies if you eat it and you will be given many! Eeek, that's a lot of babies! I got this one a lot after I got married and lets just say by the third year when I still wasn't pregnant, everyone was "blessing" me left and right with seeds and sayings. People will do this whether or not you are even trying to have kids at the moment. Plus you could also check out the extensive list by Nations Online of all the food symbolisms for Chinese people!
Clothes: Growing up, one of my favorite parts of the holiday was being able to wear new clothes for a whole week. It's best to wear bright colors but even better for red and gold, which is why you will see an abundance of these colors all around Chinese homes during this time. Oh when I say clothes, this extends to new PJs, under garments, shoes, haircut, jacket…everything that can be new should be new! It's a new beginning and you don't want to be wearing raggedy old clothes or that's what you'll have the rest of the year…at least, that's what the superstition is. I kept this tradition 'cause any excuse for shopping is a good excuse!
Working/Studying: Bottom line is, DON'T. There is a reason why in San Francisco, which is overly populated with Chinese families, finally decided to give Chinese New Year off as a holiday for San Francisco schools because too many kids were missing school anyways. It is believed that whatever you do on that day, you will be doing the rest of the year. So if you're busy studying and working and laboring away, well, that's what you'll be doing all year long. So word on the street is, don't go to work or school or study that day and instead go out, visit family, have fun, drink and be merry because then the rest of your year will mimic that! I also like to keep this tradition, who wants to work on a holiday, right?!
Colors: It's very important to get the colors right or you could be totally wrong! With that said, red is the the color of choice, then there's also yellow, gold, and orange. But what you don't want to do is wear black or white during Chinese New Year, especially not white! Those are colors of someone in mourning! Don't even think about wearing them on your head, that's major bad news so put away those cute white headbands and white flower pins! Switch gears and go with the red and gold explosion in your home, wardrobe, party decor and anything else you can think of!
Numbers: Ever notice in Asia the #4 is not widely used or why the sky is falling when the number 4 is present in their phone number, license plate, home address or the like?! Well, it's because the #4 sounds like the word death so that's a big no-no for Chinese people. So what are some lucky numbers?! The number 8 for those who want wealth and the number 9 for those seeking longevity!
Red Envelopes: I'm sure everyone's favorite part of Chinese New Year is receiving those cute little red packets filled with $$$$$! Oh yeah, the closer you are to that person, the larger that amount may be. However, some things you should know, the red envelopes are given out by married couples and individuals with children to children and unmarried individuals. However, what amount you put in the envelopes matters too because just like I said about numbers above, you don't want to put $4 in the envelope…unless it's your enemy but even then that's not ok! But almost any amount besides numbers with 4 in it are ok.
I found a great Chinese New Year timeline on things to do and not to do before and during Chinese New Year on Feng Shui Diva for those of you who really want to immerse yourself into this holiday. Plus you can even check out About.com's article on the Top 10 Chinese New Year Superstitions.
So are you ready to celebrate Chinese New Year?! Alright, are you feeling more overwhelmed by these traditions?! Sometimes I can feel that way during Chinese New Year but it can also be really fun. So to inspire you all to celebrate with me this Chinese New Year, I wanted to share my Chinese New Year Pinterest board with you. It's filled with craft ideas, activities, party ideas, recipes, clothing ideas, and more! Chinese New Year celebrations go on for 14 days so you have plenty of time to still throw a party, make some crafts or cook up a couple of those dishes! I also made some lanterns and fans last year from upcycled red envelopes, which were super easy so go check it out! Plus you can also see my posting about how to turn a Christmas item into Chinese New Year Love & Luck Gingerbread Cookies! Hope you fun and Happy Year of The Snake!!!!
Gung Hai Fat Choi
Free Printables (designed by me, hope you like them):
You can print these on photo paper or cardstock and put them in a frame as decoration for your CNY party!