Growing up Chinese, one of the many things I enjoyed about my culture was the Lunar New Year. It was a time of family gatherings, staying up late, lots of food, sweets and lucky red pockets stuffed with money! It was tradition to have a big family dinner on Chinese New Year’s Eve and stay up all night waiting for the new year to come.
Of the many traditions of Chinese New Year, one of the most important is the preparation that goes into the festivities. Leading up to the new year, the house is cleaned thoroughly (similar to spring cleaning) and decorations are put up.
The ancestral table must be cleaned and offerings made to the ancestors which include fruits, flowers and food.
New Year couplets of blessings are written on red paper and hung up around the house as well as papers with the word fortune written on it.
My favourite part of the New Year decorations were the flowers. Representing new growth, fresh cut blooms in reds, yellows and all sorts of bright colours are arranged in vases around the house.
Certain flowers hold specific significance for the Lunar New Year. Oranges represent abundance so many people decorate with plates of clementines or kumquat plants. Orchids represent fertility and abundance and are a favourite during this time. Pussy willows represent prosperity and are often decorated with bright red bows. Chrysanthemums represent longevity and are favoured in hues of gold and yellow which also represents wealth.
If you’re a first generation Canadian/American Chinese, how do you celebrate the Lunar New Year? If you’re not Chinese, what traditions do your cultures have and how do you celebrate them here in North America? Drop me a line and let me know!
Have a very happy Chinese New Year to all those who celebrate!