As everything is energy―including color, of course―what you wear when the clock strikes midnight is believed to bring you all manner of luck and success.
It's time to herald spring, which is also a time to start afresh with new beginnings and renewals. So to say, it is time for a fresh start in the Lunar calendar, and also a time to bring about new changes to adjust the 'qi' through feng shui cures. The celebration of the Spring Festival as it is known in China, begins on the eve of the new year―January 30, 2014, and culminates on the fifteenth day―February 14, 2014, with the Lantern Festival.
It is a time when families reunite for their annual family dinner, as well as a time to thoroughly clean and decorate the house. Simply put, it is a time to get rid of anything that brings ill-fortune, and make way for good tidings. Enough said and done, here's what you should be doing to herald the Lunar New Year falling on January 31, 2014.
Start by Cleaning Your Home
An important part of the festival is cleaning the house before the gaiety actually begins. Cleaning the house will also ensure you sweep away any kind of ill-fortune, and negativity out the door. This ritual, in turn, will mean you are making way for good luck to enter your home and lives. Take it up as a family duty, thus making it less of a task and more of a way to spend quality family time together.
Use Traditional Decoration
Once the cleaning is done and the broom is stacked away out of sight, start decorating the house. The rule is to keep it minimalist and elegant, and not go overboard with the decorations. Placing a pair of mandarins (oranges) with their stalks intact is known to bring happiness. You can also place flowers like the lotus―symbol of rebirth and new growth―around the house to herald new beginnings. While decorating, remember to incorporate the color red to bring in luck.
Host a Family Dinner on New Year's Eve
New Year's Eve is a dedicated family reunion day. It is imperative that one gets together with his/her entire family for a traditional dinner. Dinner is most often followed by visiting the temple to pray for a prosperous new year.
The main motto is to create a din and scare away the evil spirits with firecrackers and burnt bamboo sticks. You can use plastic firecrackers to adorn the front door to ward off evil.
Visiting family and friends on the first five days of the New Year is encouraged. However, one is discouraged from venturing out of one's home on the third day of the celebrations as it is considered to be an unlucky day.
Give Out Ang Pows
It is a custom to give out cash in red envelopes as a form of blessing to younger family members. Employees too, are given bonuses in red envelopes to symbolize good health, good luck, and wealth.
Dress in Lucky Colors
The Chinese believe, the colors red and gold are auspicious and bring good fortune. Which is why wearing these colors to usher in the New Year is highly recommended.
Enjoy Festive Foods
It is the New Year after all, and you can gorge on delicious food that is on offering. You can serve festive foods to those who visit you, and also give out tangerines and oranges to kids and guests as a token of good luck and wealth.
Participate in the Parade
The best way to enjoy the festivities of the New Year is to participate in the parades held in and around the city. Witness the dragon and lion dances as they are an integral part of Chinese New Year celebrations.
Distribute cash in red envelopes
Follow the custom of blessing kids, teenagers, and unmarried friends and relatives with an envelope filled with cash.
Light up with Fireworks
Bid goodbye to the old year, and attract the attention of the God of Wealth by setting off fire crackers.
Burn Incense Sticks
Pay respect to deities, and invoke the blessings of your ancestors by burning incense sticks.
Join in the procession to commemorate the Lantern Festival with a lit candle or lantern.
Light up Paths
Lighting candles to guide wayward spirits home is a customary practice held on the fifteenth day of the Lunar New Year.
Watch the Lion Dance
Allow the lion dance troupe to perform the custom of cai qing
or plucking the greens in your homes.
Put up Paper Decorations
Celebrate the Lunar New Year with paper-cut artwork adorning the front yard of the house.
Decorate the traditional way
Use traditional elements to decorate the house for the Spring Festival.
Wear red while visiting family and friends as red is considered auspicious.
Best Places to Celebrate the Lunar New Year
: The Lunar New Year Parade held at San Francisco is the largest of its kind outside Asia. With elaborate floats, gorgeous costumes, ferocious lions, and marching bands, it is one of the must-see parades of the world.
: One of the largest and longest running Lunar New Year celebrations is held in New York. Festivities include signature performances like the red ribbon dance, the flash and elegance of the traditional sword dance, the playful and graceful double fan dance, and a traditional lion dance with a hip-hop twist.
: With concerts at the Chinatown Museum and Lunar New Year dinners taking place, the popular and colorful Lunar New Year Parade at Chicago is definitely a vibrant place to enjoy and experience the festivities.
You can also visit the parades held at Washington D.C., Boston, and Vancouver. May the gaiety and cheer bring about an amazing start to your year. Here's wishing all of you a prosperous Lunar New Year.