Kung hei fat choy! The Year of the Fire Monkey is officially upon us. Chinese New Year celebrates the year gone by and the fresh possibilities for the year ahead. It is a time to be spent with loved ones and is the cause of great celebrations all over the world. Traditions and superstitions abound during this auspicious time so keep reading for tips on how to have a prosperous new year!
- Cleaning house, washing clothes, and cutting hair should all be done before the New Year in order to rid oneself of the evil spirits and bad luck from the previous year, then to prevent wiping/trimming away one's newly accumulated luck.
- Decorate your home with red lanterns and "Fu", the character for luck
- Look out monkeys! According to Chinese tradition, those born under the zodiac sign as the year's designated animal will have a particularly difficult year and should lay low to avoid trouble.
- Get ready to feast! Eating is a huge part of the Lunar New Year celebration and each dish is chosen for its auspicious properties, many of which are based on homophones. For example, fish sounds like the word for "good luck". Mandarin oranges stand for success, pomelos bring wealth, celery wisdom, and plums a sharp mind. Long noodles and peaches symbolize longevity. Dumplings, rice cakes, and sweets are also customary.
- Wear new underwear. Out with the old, in with the new! Chinese New Year is a time for fresh starts and new underwear (especially in Red) is considered to bring more luck.
- Give Lai See. Those who are married must stuff red envelopes with cash to hand out to their unmarried friends, family, and coworkers.
- Avoid using sharp objects, hard items are believed to bring hardship to the New Year.
- Light it up! Fireworks scare away evil spirits. It is considered especially lucky to be the first person to light them.
- Gather with friends and family, this is a holiday to be spent with those you love most.