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10 ways to celebrate the Lunar New Year at home

Celebrating the Lunar New Year at home can help you grow closer to your family and learn more about Chinese culture

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Worshippers pray at a temple to welcome in the Lunar New Year of the Dragon in Hong Kong, Friday, Feb. 9, 2024.

Worshippers pray as they burn their first joss sticks at a temple to welcome in the Lunar New Year of the Dragon in Hong Kong, Friday, Feb. 9, 2024.

Louise Delmotte, Associated Press

Lunar New Year festivities have already begun, but there’s still time for your family to get involved, even if you haven’t celebrated before.

Taking time to learn, understand and appreciate a different culture can help you minimize stereotypes. It also exposes you to new experiences, per Tourism Academy.

Lunar New Year is on Feb. 10 this year. Here are 10 ways to celebrate it and learn more about the Chinese culture.

Honor departed loved ones

Honoring and celebrating the lives of your ancestors who have passed away is a key part of New Year festivities. You can show respect by burning incense, reminiscing on fond memories, praying at temples and taking part in family traditions. Remembering ancestors is said to bring blessings and good luck for the next year, according to Girls Write Now.

Since visiting a temple on Lunar New Year might not be an option where you live, here are some ideas to honor departed ancestors from home:

  • Look at past family photos.
  • Read ancestors’ old journal entries.
  • Write in your journal about your favorite memories of relatives.
  • Share stories with other relatives or family members.

Gather with friends and family

If your family and friends are close, make time to visit one another, share a meal or reflect on the previous year while thinking about the new one. Together, you can try learning a traditional game like mahjong or give away Hong Paos, red envelopes filled with money.

If your loved ones do not live nearby, consider hopping on FaceTime or Zoom to gather virtually.

Clean your life

Before the Lunar New Year, families who celebrate clean their houses and pay their debts. By doing so, they drive away the previous year’s bad luck, according to USA Today.

If you’re not sure where to start in following this tradition, try some of these ideas below:

  • Look at your wardrobe. Donate the clothes you do not wear often or are the wrong size.
  • Besides addressing financial debts, repay those who you owe favors to.
  • Get a group together and spend a day helping others clean their houses.

Decorate your home with red and gold

To invite good luck, wealth and health, add vibrant reds, metallics and gold colors to your house. Traditional Lunar New Year decorations include rice paper, special dinnerware and a kumquat tree, per Girls Write Now.

Read a story

According to Indy with Kids, reading stories with your family is a great way to learn more about Chinese culture. Some of that site’s favorites are “Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas,” “How to Catch a Dragon,” “Ruby’s Chinese New Year” and “Sam and the Lucky Money.”

Learn how to make traditional food

Foods that are eaten during the Lunar New Year are thought to bring luck because of the pronunciation of their name or their appearance.

For example, the vegetable bok choy is linked to luck because both words are pronounced as cai in different tones. And dumplings have a similar shape to Chinese coins and are therefore also connected with luck, per Girls Write Now.

This video highlights some traditional dessert recipes for the Lunar New Year.

Enjoy traditional music and dance

Many parades and other community celebrations happen as part of Lunar New Year festivities. During these events, dances like the lion and dragon or popular radio songs like Xin Nian Dao help to scare away evil while bringing in prosperity and good health, according to Girls Write Now.

Do some crafts

Indy with Kids suggests making Chinese fans, tying a good luck knot, making some dragons or learning how to paint calligraphy messages of luck.

Make some lanterns

The Lantern Festival is another big event during the Lunar New Year. Paper lanterns can be strung up or sent flying while you make a wish for the new year.

To make one at home, use a tea bag or follow this paper tutorial from Indy with Kids.

End the night with fireworks

Legend says Nian, a beast who was believed to eat livestock and people on the last day of the lunar year, is terrified of light and noise. Fireworks are thought to keep you safe, per Taste of Home.

However you celebrate, make sure to respect Chinese tradition and culture.