Red lucky envelopes, dragon dances, decorative displays, vibrant traditional attire, copious amounts of food, firecrackers and the sound of laughter at family reunions. This is Lunar New Year and it’s not a one day affair, it’s celebrated for fifteen days in China, a week or more for Vietnam, an entire weekend for some and at the very least for two to three days in South Korea.
Is Lunar New Year the same as Chinese New Year? It’s the same holiday, but not only observed in China and Singapore, but other Asian countries like Vietnam, known as Tet, Tibet as Losar and South Korea as Seolla. Therefore, the correct terminology is simply, Lunar New Year.
What is Lunar New Year (LNY)? The celebration begins on the first full moon of the lunar calendar, which is based on the cycles of the moon. The holiday is widely celebrated across the United States by Asians and this year it falls on Friday, February 12, 2021, Year of the Ox. It’s a celebration for new beginnings like spring when new flowers bloom. Here are 5 things to do for Lunar New Year and how you can prepare for an auspicious year ahead.
1. Clean, declutter and out with all the broken things in your house.
After Christmas, I immediately get ready to do spring cleaning. To get ready for a fresh new start of the new year, it’s a ritual to clean, declutter and get rid of anything that is broken. My mom said, “It’s negative energy to have broken things and clutter.” She also rearranges her furniture every year to get a better flow of qi. That, my friend, is another subject of feng shui. To keep it simple, clear the pathway to invite happiness, health and prosperity in your home for the new year.
2. Decorate your home and fill up the red envelopes.
Just like any holiday, there are holiday decorations. For Lunar New Year, there are a few key items I do every year. RED, RED, RED and more red. Did I say, red? It’s all about red for this month as it symbolizes good luck, good fortune and happiness. Red lucky envelopes are essential for LNY and are filled with brand new money for good luck and well wishes for the new year ahead. They are given to children, family and friends. As for decorations, I put up red lanterns, add red lucky envelopes on our money tree, display yellow flowers, and buy luscious fruits to offer to my ancestors. I also display fun Lunar New Year crafts and decorations made by my kids. Check out these festive LNY crafts.
- 20+ Lunar New Year Crafts – Chalk Academy
- Paper Dragon Plate – Messy Little Monsters
- Lunar New Year Sensory Bin – Happy Toddler Playtime
- Fire Breathing Paper Roll Craft – One Little Project
- Paper Bag Lion Masks – Pink Stripey Socks
My kids made these Paper Bag Lion Masks about 2 years ago at North Park Mall (Dallas), when they had their annual Lunar New Year celebration. It was very easy to make. Grab a paper bag, cut off the bottom, draw a lion’s head, color and add pom poms. My kids had a blast horsing around and pretending to be lions. Cue the drums!
3. Things to do:
What is there to do this year with COVID? Lucky you, I was able to find a few places in person or virtually to celebrate the Year of the Ox.
- 1/30/21 – @ 2PM – Lunar New Year – Legacy Hall, Plano, TX
- 1/30/21 – @12 PM – Virtual LNY Puppet Show – Santa Clara Library
- 2/11/21 – @ 2:30PM Virtual STEAM LNY Sculpture Workshop – Lewis Latimar House Musuem
- 2/12/21 – @ 1PM – Virtual LNY Festival – National YMCA Asian Pacific Islander Leadership Network
- Lunar New Year Decorations & Dragon Dance – Cali Saigon Mall – They have their vibrant LNY display up and usually have a dragon dance for the start of the New Year. Check their facebook for updates.
- 2/6-7/21 & 2/13-14/21 – 14th Annual LNY – Asia Time Square – In the past, they would have street food vendors, food trucks, musicians, singers, dancers, dragon dance, performances and more. This year it will be scaled down to follow the CDC guidelines. I’m looking forward to picking up take out for the week of LNY. The food there is like none other. Once a year, the mom and pop vendors and local restaurants set up to serve the best LNY food.
4. Just for fun, find your Zodiac Sign.
Your birth year determines your zodiac sign and it’s a repeating twelve year cycle with twelve animals. Each year represents an animal with certain attributes. Find your kids’ zodiac sign below, Interested in reading more detailed personality traits with your kids? Visit Nat Geo – Kids for more Chinese Horoscopes.
5. Support Local Authentic Asian Cuisine Restaurants
There are far better places to go to than Pei Wei. I get it, it’s easy-to-read menu and fast casual ambiance makes it your go to comfort Chinese food. Let me introduce you to some local authentic Asian cuisine restaurants that will make you soy happy. For LNY, its tradition to eat noodles for longevity, dumplings for wealth, fruits like mandarins for good fortune, spring rolls and sticky rice to name a few.
- Golden Joy BBQ – By far the best roast pork and Chinese BBQ. Their dim sum dumplings, hai gow and xiu mai are DELICIOUS. Go ahead and just order soy sauce chicken, beef flat noodle, shrimp wonton soup, roast pork and combination fried rice. Your welcome, your LNY feast will be ready in 20 mins.
- Mulan Noodles – Must try the hand made steam juicy dumplings. Ahhh, there is something about these piping hot dumplings, you can’t just have one dumpling. Try six all by yourself. While you’re there, make yourself at home with a bowl of Mulan beef noodle soup too.
Jennifer Noser is Taiwanese and our Parliamentarian. She loves LNY as much as I do and she recommended some of her favorite Chinese cuisine. Here are her picks and I couldn’t agree with her more. Look out for her article on Lunar New Year in our CECPTA February magazine issue.
- Kirin Court – Best Dim Sum. Tip: Bring your ticket to the food tables and order yourself a waffle. You’ll thank me later.
- Tapioca House – Bubble tea and with delicious Taiwanese snacks. They are famous for their Taiwanese style chicken nuggets. It’s not your average chicken nuggets, it’s packed with flavor flaaav.
- Chinatown in Richardson – Want more? Check out Chinatown in Richardson. Plenty of places for you to get your grub on.
- Pho Pasteur – “What’s your favorite pho place in Carrollton?” I get this question a lot and if I had to pick a pho place in Carrollton, hands down it would be this place. It’s a no frills pho place, not a 5-star service, but boy do they serve up a clean, full-bodied and aromatic pho that has been simmered for days. The pho briskets are well seasoned and cooked with robust flavor. I love pho and will eat this everyday for LNY. Longevity, here I come!
- La Me Restaurant – My favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Dallas. Close your eyes and just pick anything on the menu. It’s so tasty! All the delectable noodles are mouthwatering good, cold or hot soups, just pick one. Their rice plates are generously full of different meats. Their egg rolls are fried to crispy goodness, wrapped with veggies and dipped with nuoc mam is pretty much what heaven tastes like.
- Mom’s Kitchen – This little mom & pop restaurant is my favorite Korean place. Their bento box is reasonably priced, generous portions, packed with detail and care. It’s very flavorful and their menu offers more than ten main dishes. They have a bento box for everyone, plus soups and bibimbap (rice dish.) Uber Eats for the win, click and it will be at your doorsteps.
- Korean Food Court at H-Mart, Music City Hall and Galleria Mart – No need to describe all these small cafeteria style eateries, they are all SO SCRUMPTIOUS. Grab your foodie friends and just order one item from each place. You’ll have a fruitful year ahead and will be an elite yelp reviewer in no time. Bon appetit!
- Secret Asian Recipe – Don’t be overwhelmed by their menu, just know that they know what they are woking with. Skip their main entree portion of the menu and head straight to “South East Asian,” that’s where all the best authentic dishes are hidden. Their food is sizzling good and you can easily order an 8 course Lunar New Year feast.
Interested in more Asian Grub? Join the facebook group, Asian Grub in DFUB. This facebook group was formed at the start of the pandemic to help support local Asian restaurants stay afloat. Members would post their favorite Asian places and with 25 likes later, their business would flourish to make ends meet. Like a true food fairy tale.
All this food talk is making my stomach growl. I’m ready for Lunar New Year and can’t wait for what is in store for 2021. It’s been a very challenging year globally and may this new year bring you new hope and more certain times for all of us. I hope you embrace the Year of the Ox with love and happiness. May it be more colorful, bright and peaceful. Finally, it’s not a Lunar New Year wish without saying, “Wishing you an abundance of joy, prosperity, wealth and most of all health.” Please wear a mask, wash your hands frequently and maintain a safe distance during this Lunar New Year as you go festive shopping or meet with your family and friends.
Wishing you all a safe, healthy and Happy Lunar New Year!
Chúc Mừng Năm Mới – Happy New Year! (Vietnamese)
Xing Nian Quai Le – Happy New Year! (Mandarin)
Gong Xi Fa Cai – Good fortune to you! (Mandarin)
Gung Hey Fat Choy – Wishing you great happiness and prosperity.(Cantonese)
새해 복 많이 받으십시오 (saehae bok mani badeusipsio) – Happy Lunar New Year! (Korean)
About the Author
Joylynn has been a member of the CECPTA since 2014. She has served as Publicity chair, on the Silent Auction team, and is currently our Community Outreach chair over publicity, community service, and our website. She has a background in Fashion Merchandising, Graphic Design, Cosmetology, and Event Planning. Joylynn is mama to Talon, Emmy – yellow playgroup, and Edi – blue playgroup. Joylynn and hubby, Tuan, love to travel with the entire family. They have a goal of visiting all 50 states with the kids. 14 down, 36 to go!