Attend A Traditional Festival
The Chinese word for Chinese New Year translates literally to ‘spring festival.’ The Chinese New Year is all about welcoming good fortune for the coming year, and there’s no better way to declare your good intentions than to light up some firecrackers to ward off evil spirits. One of the most popular Chinese New Year traditions, this will get you involved in the festivities and into the spirit of the holiday.
Join A Parade
Parades are a wonderful way to see and experience cultural holidays, and Chinese New Year parades are all about being loud and having fun. Watch lion dancers, performers in colorful costumes and elaborately-designed floats, and join in the general spirit of excitement and chaos. Wear your brightest clothing and be prepared for lots of confetti and gong-banging.
Wander Through A Bazaar
Great for a unique and culturally-stimulated Valentine’s Day date, the Chinese New Year features folk music, traditional dances, magic shows and martial arts performances. Get lost among the craft and food stalls, and make sure to ‘greet the new year’ as you meet others. This involves a traditional salutation; in China, you’d be expected to go door to door, greeting friends and family.
Make A New Year Keepsake
The Chinese New Year is a time to revel in Chinese tradition and some 3,000 years of rich history. Some of the most popular symbols of the holiday are lanterns, dumplings, calligraphy poems, and paper cutouts. Try your hand at making any of the above (makers-keepers), and take in special exhibitions on Chinese culture.
Take In A Performance
China’s national television station hosts an annual New Year’s Eve gala that is watched on a national scale. Nothing is spared to ensure perfection in this four-hour-long show, featuring some of China’s most beloved celebrities and cultural icons. Check it out for yourself; you don’t need to speak Chinese to appreciate the dances, music and acrobatic performances. In the past, the New York Philharmonic has hosted a concert featuring the famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma, as well as a performance of Zhao Lin’s ‘Duo’, which combines the cello and the sheng, a traditional Chinese woodwind instrument.
Eat Something Lucky
Eating a lot of traditional food is central to celebrating the Chinese New Year right, and there are several things that should be on your New Year’s Eve menu. Partake in a whole fish, as the Chinese word for ‘fish’ sounds like the word for ‘extra’. Don’t finish the entire dish, however, as extra food signals extras in life. Move on a plate of long noodles; the longer, the better, as they symbolize longevity. In ancient China, gold and silver coins were shaped like dumplings, so eat up for a year of prosperity. Eat rice cake and balls for reunion, and finish with golden fruits; citrus fruits represent wealth, thus they are the fruits of choice during the Chinese New Year.