Southern Mom Loves: Want to Celebrate Chinese New Year? Here are the Essentials.

Want to Celebrate Chinese New Year? Here are the Essentials.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

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Imagine a week-long public holiday in which the entire country celebrates. The Chinese New Year may not be well known to those in the United States that aren't of Chinese descent, but it's a holiday with deep roots, fun traditions, and delicious foods. If you're looking to expand your family's cultural horizons, learning about and celebrating others' holidays is a good way to do it. Want to celebrate Chinese New Year this year? Here are the essentials.

About the Chinese New Year

One thing you might have noticed is that Chinese New Year (also called Spring Festival) is celebrated on different dates each year. The holiday always takes place between January 21 and February 20, but the exact date the holiday is celebrated depends on the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar. This year (updated for 2019), New Year will fall on February 5th and last for a week. It's a time to celebrate a year of hard work and to wish for a successful new year.

The Year of the....

Chances are you've heard of the Chinese zodiac. It is a repeating cycle of 12 years, with each year being represented by an animal: the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, or Pig. Your birth year, and corresponding animal and element, are said to affect your personality traits and your fortune.

The current animal year is supposed to be very unlucky for those born during that same animal year, which comes around every 12 years. 2017 is the year of the Rooster [2019: Year of the Pig], so to avoid bad luck during this year, Roosters should wear something red that is given to them by an elder relative.

Coloring Page

Print the Zodiac Coloring Page below to help the kids get into the spirit of the holiday. To print, right-click on the picture and choose "save image as...", then print it from your computer.

The Big Meal

On New Year's Eve, families get together for what is called the Reunion Dinner. This dinner is the Western equivalent of a big Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. It's the most important meal of the entire year and is when several generations of families come together to celebrate and be reunited. Check out this post at China Highlights for traditional New Year's foods and their meanings.

Traditional Sweet Treats

From sticky cakes and puddings to tarts and fruit creations, you're sure to find something delicious to make. Check out this article on About Food for a list of the top New Year's desserts with recipes so you can give them a try.


For New Year's, both homes and businesses will decorate for the holiday. Most of these decorations are in the color red because the color is thought to be highly fortunate. You will also see lots of decorations that feature the animal of the year. For example, this year, there will be lots of red roosters.

You can find fun (reusable) decor online. Try decorating with LED-illuminated lanterns or string lights, red garlands, colorful dragons, firecrackers, lucky coins, roosters, and don't forget those red envelopes...

The Giving of Red Envelopes

If you've ever attended a Chinese New Year's celebration, you may have seen red envelopes. During the Chinese New Year, adults are expected to give red envelopes to their children (even if adult children), other children in your family and of close friends, your parents and grandparents, and employees if you are a business owner. These envelopes are filled with money (generally between $5-$300, depending on your income, with the larger amounts being given to your elder relatives) and are meant to bring good luck and share your own blessings with others.

You can buy lucky red envelopes online or find red envelope crafts to print out and assemble yourself. Check mine out below.

Chinese New Year: Lucky Money Red Envelope Craft {Free Printable}


In large cities in China and all over the world, you can see Chinese New Year performances featuring performers dressed in elaborate lion and dragon costumes. These performers dance through the city during a festival. At these festivals, you'll also find a number of fun and delicious wares for sale, firecrackers and fireworks shows, and lantern lighting.

The Chinese New Year is a wonderful holiday that everyone can enjoy. Try bringing some of these cultural traditions into your home this year.


Will you be celebrating Chinese New Year this year? Is this your first time celebrating? What is your favorite tradition? I love to read your comments!

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