February 19 is the start of the Chinese New Year — 2015 is the year of the goat. It’s the most important holiday on the Chinese calendar — the celebration lasts about two weeks with traditions to fill them from beginning to end. Here are a few Chinese New Year traditions.
New Year Cleansing A few days before the new year, a Chinese tradition is to clean their homes from top to bottom. The idea is to wash away the old to make room for the new. Opening all the windows is considered good luck as well as changing out old mattresses, blankets and clothes.
Color Red is the primary color to represent the new year — it symbolizes good luck and happiness. As the legend goes, a mythical beast would appear on the new year and devour anyone in his way. But this beast was afraid of the color red. Now people drape everything in red inside and outside — red lanterns are hung up and down streets and people dress in red — to protect themselves from this beast and ensure it’s a good year.
Red Envelopes Red envelopes containing money are given out to children and single, unemployed adults. It’s thought to protect them from evil, bring luck, health, and happiness.
Food New Year’s Eve dinner is the most important meal. Extended families get together to eat food that symbolize prosperity. Fish is common at the new year dinner to symbolize surplus. It’s thought that if they have a surplus at the end of the year, the next year will be prosperous. Dumplings are also eaten for the new year. They’re shaped like ingots (something like a gold brick to be formed into something valuable). According to tradition, the more dumplings you eat the more money you will make in the coming year.
Fireworks Similar to the color red, the mythical beast that disrupts the new year is afraid of fire and loud noises. Shortly after the new year dinner, fireworks are set off to scare away evil and bring good luck.
Though we’re almost two months into 2015, it’s never too late to add a luck for the year. And what better ways to earn your fortune than eating dumplings and wear red? Happy New Year!