Chinese New Year - The Year Of The Monkey

Ring in the Year of the Monkey with symbolic traditions, customs and foods.
The new year is always a time of hope and excitement. While, in the West, we celebrate the event on January 1st, the Chinese New Year (also known as the Lunar New Year and celebrated in various countries throughout Asia) follows the lunisolar calendar and usually falls between late January and early February. This year it falls on Feb. 8. Here are a few ways you can ring in the year of the Monkey!

Wish a Happy New Year
Just as "Happy New Year!" is a joyous expression used throughout January, so too is "Gun Hei Fat Choi!" in Cantonese, "Gong Xi Fa Cai" in Mandarin, or "Chuc Mung Nam Mui!" in Vietnamese. You can greet family and friends with these salutations throughout the 15-day celebration.

Feast on symbolic dishes

Food plays a huge role during this holiday, and noodles are especially important. In addition to noodles, you can also prepare a whole fish with head and tail intact (signifying a good beginning and ending for the year), dumplings for prosperity, and nian gao cake, a traditional dessert that represents achieving great heights in the year ahead. 

Give gifts of red envelopes and money    
Red is an important colour in Chinese culture and, during celebrations, family hands out small, red envelopes filled with money to younger members of the household in a symbolic offering of good luck.

Clean your house in preparation for a new year
As in many cultures, it is customary to clean your home from top to bottom before the new year arrives. Sweeping away the bad luck makes room for the good luck that will greet you as the year changes over. Put out the recycling and trash, get rid of any broken dishes, and dispose of all dead plants.

Invite good energy into your life with decor
Add small, red items to your home for the duration of the festivities. Easy and inexpensive ways to do this include swapping out existing throw cushions for crimson ones, or adding scarlet votive candles to your mantle. Purchasing a bouquet of flowers, such as lotuses that represent rebirth and new growth, is another beautiful way to celebrate. You can also buy small, plastic firecrackers as a decoration for a festive dinner—in China they light up the night sky with the world's biggest fireworks display in celebration.

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