Though many people choose to ring in a brand new year on Dec. 31, New Year’s Day is not the only New Year celebration out there.
In fact, 1.5 billion people from East Asian countries such as China, South Korea and Vietnam (or people of East Asian descent) often celebrate the Lunar New Year, which marks the first new moon of the Lunisolar Calendar, with 15 days of food, fireworks, family gatherings and fun.
This year’s Lunar New Year falls on Feb. 12 and if you’re looking to celebrate The Year of the Ox from the comfort and safety of your own home, we have you covered with recipes, activities for kids and much more in this handy guide.
The Spring Festival (or Lunar New Year) originated with the legend of Nian — a monster that would terrorize the villages — and the offerings that families gave the ancestors and gods in exchange for their protection. That means food is a huge part of the celebrations.
Today, many families keep the feasting tradition with celebratory foods such as spring rolls, dumplings, rice balls and fish — all of which are said to bring good luck.
While many families probably already have recipes handed down to them, a Lunar New Year at home might be a good chance to add something new to the menu.
Here are some delicious ideas that we think families might really enjoy.
- Grandma’s Tepong Pork from Molly Yeh and the Food Network
- Chinese New Year Sesame Chicken dreamed up by Metro Parent food writer Kristen J. Gough.
- The Hirshon Chinese New Year Spring Roll with Dipping Sauce from The Food Dictator.
Beyond the food, families that celebrate the Lunar New Year do so with fireworks, colorful dragons, lanterns and more.
This year’s celebration at home might involve less explosives (see this post about firework safety if you’re still planning on shooting them off) and more activities that you can do indoors or from your backyard.
You can take a look at some of these virtual Chinese New Year events if you want to celebrate with others or consider some of these unique crafts for time with the kids.
- Lunar New Year Sensory Bin from Happy Toddler Playtime
- Chinese New Year Paper Lanterns by Kitchen Table Classroom
- Paper Bag Ox Puppet from Holidappy
Not feeling a craft? You can always try a game of Maj Jong or Chinese Checkers — or perhaps watch Netflix’s Over the Moon, which tells the story of a young girl named Fei Fei who wants to fly to the moon to meet the Chinese Moon Goddess from her bedtime stories.
Happy New Year!