Happy Year of the Dragon! The name itself speaks to power, tradition, and magical beginnings. My visit home has been fortuitous, spending time with my family and working together to make good things happen. A new year that seemed to be clouded with dark news transformed into a lunar new year that holds as much promise and potential as any other. While home in New Jersey, I’m glad to be able to spend this time with my family during the Chinese New Year.
Traditions We Celebrate During Chinese New Years
My dad conversed with his best friend in Thailand, both had grown up south of Bangkok in families of Chinese descent. Today over 6000 miles apart, they still observe the old traditions of the lunar new year. Today as a family, we dressed in red and decorated the house in yellow, red, and orange hues—the colors of luck and wealth. Whole roasted duck and a chicken decorated the table alongside hot tea, chilled wine, and filtered water. Dad lit incense sticks and the entire house filled with the fragrance of Buddhist celebration. As smoke curled from the sticks, we prayed for good fortune and new opportunities for the new year.
How to Celebrate the Chinese New Year
~Clean the house on the day before. Sweep, scour, and wash away all the bad luck from the last year.
~Don’t clean the house on the day of the lunar new year. Good luck is bound to enter the house on the lunar new year. If you clean on this day, you risk sweeping it right out of your home
~Have a good meal at noon. Fill the buffet with decadent meats and golden fruits. Invite the family over and fill your stomachs with sweet and sour delights.
~Go on a trip the day after the Chinese New Year. Start the year right. Go somewhere new, see something different and energize yourself for the Year of the Dragon.
At 10am, my dad set the meal and lit the incense. For a few short minutes, we stood in prayer and thought about all the good things we wanted for the next year. My niece shied away from the red roasted duck with its head still on but inched forward to get a closer look at its crisply baked beak. When my sister and nephew arrived, my brother dawned a red jersey and we posed for a great family shot in front of our lunch on the Chinese New Year. So even though I spent my new year’s eve in Cusco, Peru, there’s no place like home for the Chinese New Year.