Chinese New Year in NYC - Fun Facts & Traditions
Posted on 07 February 2017
Chinese New Year in NYC 2.5.17 - New York City’s historic Chinatown neighborhood is home to the largest concentration of Chinese in the Western Hemisphere. Located on the Lower East Side (LES) of Manhattan, this tiny 2 mile area has over 150,000 residents! While the boundaries are loosely defined as Lafayette, Worth, Grand & East Broadway streets, the heart of Chinatown is Canal Street. Every year 1,000’s of people head to Canal Street to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year & view the parade (the route is pictured below)
Here Are Some Fun Facts About The Chinese Lunar New Year Celebration:
The start of Chinese New Year depends on the phases of the moon. While the date changes yearly, it usually begins between January 21 & February 10.
The Chinese New Year rotates in a 12-year cycle named after different animals. The 12 animals are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep (ram/goat), monkey, rooster, dog & pig. 2017 is the year of the Rooster.
The Chinese New Year lands on the first day of the lunar month & continues for 15 days, until the moon is full. Each of the 15 days of the celebrations has a particular role, like visiting family or eating certain foods.
The phrase “Happy New Year” in Chinese is “Gung Hei Fat Choi” or “May You Have Good Fortune.”
At midnight on the Chinese New Year, every door & window in the house is opened to allow the old year out.
During Chinese New Year, people wear new clothes from head to toe to symbolize a new beginning.
The color red is very significant in Chinese New Year celebrations. Specifically, people wear red clothes, they decorate poems on red paper & they give children “lucky” money in red envelopes. Red symbolizes fire, which traditionally was believed to prevent bad luck.
The Chinese New Year has been celebrated for more than 4,000 years. Farmers started the holiday in China to mark the end of winter & the beginning of spring.
According to tradition, the goddess Nuwa created human beings from yellow clay during the Chinese New Year. (Nuwa pictured on the right)
Instead of wrapped presents, children receive red envelopes full of money. The amount of money has to be an even number but cannot be divisible by 4. The number 4 signifies death.
The Chinese New Year ends with the lantern festival. The lanterns are believed to light the way for the New Year. The festival is also associated with guiding lost or mischievous spirits home.
In China it’s popular to hire a “fake” girl or boyfriend to take home during the Chinese New Year. This is done to keep parents from pressuring young people to get married. Some college students rent themselves out for $600 a day!
To prepare for Chinese New Year, people clean their houses & sweep the floor to get rid of bad luck that has collected over the past year.
On the final day of the Chinese New Year, people eat round dumplings shaped like the full moon. The round balls symbolize completeness.
Fireworks are very important. They ward off evil spirits, especially Nian, the dragon most commonly portrayed in parades. (Nian pictured right)
Another popular belief is that whatever someone does on New Year’s Day, it sets the tone for the rest of the year. For example, if someone borrows money on New Year’s Day, they will need to borrow money all year.
Talking about the past is discouraged on New Year’s Day. Everything should be about the future & new beginnings!
No sweeping or dusting takes place on New Year's Day. People don’t want to sweep away the good luck.
On New Year’s Day, Chinese people are not supposed to wash their hair, it might wash away all the good luck for the New Year.
Tradition also says that the second day of the celebration is the birthday of all dogs, people should be extra nice to dogs then.
On New Year’s Day, Chinese families eat a vegetarian dish consisting of 18 ingredients called jai. All 18 ingredients have superstitious qualities. The lotus seed (for male children), black moss seaweed (for wealth) & bamboo shoots (for wellness)
Vases of flowers are placed around houses in preparation for Chinese New Year to symbolize rebirth & growth. The two most common flowers are the plum blossom, which symbolizes hope, & the water narcissus, which symbolizes good luck. Bowls of oranges & tangerines are also displayed for good luck & wealth.
We hope you enjoyed all of these fascinating & fun facts about the Chinese Lunar New Year. We don't just thrive to provide you with the most affordable & fashionable boho clothing, bohemian dresses & accessories; we also thrive to share our love of education & the different cultures that make the world we live in, truly wonderful. What are some of the traditions of your culture associated with the New Year ?
We'd love to hear them!