The Lunar New Year celebration is centered around removing bad luck and welcoming all that is good and prosperous. Red is considered an auspicious color to ring in the new year. In many Asian cultures, the color symbolizes good fortune and joy. People dress up in red attire, decorate their homes with red paper lanterns. Gambling and playing traditional games is common during this time across cultures.
The holiday is a time for togetherness, when family members travel from near and far to exchange well wishes for the coming year. Traditional Lunar New Year foods include:
Chinese people believe that what you do at the beginning of a new year will affect your luck in the coming year. Staying up on Chinese New Year’s eve (February 9th, 2024) and saying good words to your family/friends like Happy New Year after the clock strikes 12 will certainly bring good luck.
In western culture, we say “Happy New Year” and make resolutions. But in eastern cultures, the new year is welcomed with wishes of luck, health and good fortune. In Mandarin, typically you would say “Gong Xi Fa Chai,” which means “Wishing you prosperity and wealth.”
Other greetings include sayings like:
- May wealth come pouring in
- May you have abundance every year
- Good luck and fortune
- May everything go as you wish
It’s a tradition to give your friends and family bright red envelopes filled with money. But it’s not about the money — it’s all about the envelopes. They symbolize good wishes and luck for the year ahead. With today’s technology, many people have exchanged digital red envelopes instead of the traditional paper ones.
The tradition comes from an old story about a demon, Sui, who would terrorize children on New Year’s Eve. Parents would try to keep their children awake by giving them eight coins to play with. Inevitably, many of the children would fall asleep, and the coins (eight immortals in disguise) would light up and drive the demon away. The envelope is now symbolic of the coins.
The amount of money never includes the number 4 because the Chinese pronunciation of “four” sounds like the word for death.
Besides, decorating your house with kumquat trees (symbolizing wealth & good luck), wearing your lucky color (yellow, red), and eating lucky food like rice dumplings (family togetherness), fried flour-coated peanuts (vitality), walnut cookies (happiness), etc. are popular ways to get lucky. Each year, the date of Lunar New Year changes. But no matter the date, each culture that celebrates has its own historically rich customs, traditions and beliefs.
For a true Chinese New Year Feast may we suggest Hua Mei, the restaurant by the Fuyao Glass factory. They have three different special banquet menus for parties of 10. They also have specials listed. Unfortunately the special menus are only in simplified Chinese. Check this post on Dayton Foodies for more info.