You may be looking for fun ways to celebrate Chinese New Year at home this year due to the ongoing pandemic. While it is generally the most invigorating and vibrant festival observed in Hong Kong, we can expect a more low-key celebration this year due to the continued social distancing measures. Although there are several annual activities that we will be missing this year, we’ve compiled a list of activities you can do at home instead to properly welcome in the Year of the Ox.
Make traditional lucky dumplings
Eating dumplings is a customary Chinese New Year activity. Dumplings, symbolizing reunion and wealth in Chinese culture, are typically made with minced vegetables and meat wrapped in an elastic dumpling skin and shaped to resemble an ancient Chinese sycee. Families will typically gather to make dumplings, as the time-consuming nature of their preparation allows them to spend time together.
You don’t have to learn any complicated Chinese recipes to indulge in traditional foods typically eaten during the celebration of the Chinese New Year. Instead, to celebrate Chinese New Year, you can prepare simple dishes that have auspicious meanings. Fill your table with long, uncut noodles (长寿面 Chángshòu Miàn) – also known as longevity noodles – fish (鱼 Yú), spring rolls (春卷 Chūnjuǎn) and even dumplings (饺子 Jiǎozi).
Exchange red envelopes
To celebrate Chinese New Year, it is customary to gift bright and beautiful red envelopes (红包 hongbao in Mandarin and 利是 laishi or laisee in Cantonese) which are filled with money. The color red is regarded as a symbol of happiness and good fortune in Chinese culture. As such, wrapping lucky money in red envelopes is a way to bestow more happiness and blessings on the receiver.
While the tradition centers on children, red envelopes are also gifted to friends, family, colleagues and other relatives. However, the amount of money is customary for each relation. The money in red envelopes must be new bills, and the amount given should never include the number 4, as the pronunciation of “four” in Chinese is similar to the word for death. Instead, use amounts with the number 8, as it will bring good luck and prosperity. Make sure to give and receive them with both hands, and red envelopes should never be opened in the presence of the giver. Nowadays, many people even exchange digital red envelopes with virtual cash transfers to friends and family – which is perfect given social distancing measures this year.
Pasting Spring Festival couplets
Spring festival couplets (春联 chūnlián) contain auspicious messages written on red paper with ink or gold paint. One of the common traditional Chinese New Year practices is pasting these couplets on their doors or gates to bring in good fortune for the new year. Generally, the line pasted on the right side is referred to as the first line of the couplet, and the other on the left is the second line. Additionally, Chinese like to paste the Chinese character 福 (fú), which could be hung normally or upside down, because in Chinese culture it symbolizes the arrival of good luck and fortune.
Try your hand at Chinese calligraphy and create your own 福 (fú) decoration for your door. Use a square of red paper – make sure the square is turned to be a diamond-shaped – and write the character 福 (fú) using black ink or gold paint.
Make red lanterns
As an ancient folk handicraft, the Chinese red lantern is recognized as a symbol of Chinese culture, and it is also a staple decoration for the Chinese New Year or Lantern Festival – which marks the last day of the new year celebrations. The red lanterns will typically be seen in streets, shops and even private households as the New Year is approaching. For Chinese people, red lanterns represent reunion, prosperity and happiness. Instead of purchasing lanterns this year, you can find an easy lantern crafts project on Pinterest and make your own! Just make sure to use red paper or paint as your colors. You can even insert and secure electric candles or tea lights into the lanterns, hang them up in the house or at the front door and watch them glow. On the eve of the Lunar New Year, a red lantern hanging by the front of the door represents the hope for the coming year.
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