Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year, is a festivity that celebrates a new lunar calendar and the beginning of spring, and features main themes of renewal and having a clean slate.
Traditionally, celebrations begin on the Chinese New Year’s Eve, which falls on February 11 this year. Families will clean their homes, sweeping away any negative energy or bad luck.
Decorations made from red paper are then strung up around the walls and in windows, as well as lanterns. Money is gifted in red envelopes and presents are wrapped in red paper, with red symbolising warding evil away and bringing good health.
Festivities continue until the lantern festival on February 26, the first full moon of the Lunar New Year, which symbolises the start of spring and the reunion of families. Unfortunately, most people cannot be with friends and family this year so here’s some alternative ideas about how to celebrate safely from home.
Buy or make your own lanterns and decorate your home with them
To make sure you see in the new lunar calendar right, get some lanterns and hand them in your windows and around your living space.
You can make your own by folding a sheet of paper in half, cutting slits in it and rolling it into a cylinder shape.
Then add in a tealight or LED candle, or even attach to some fairy lights for a festive feeling.
Celebrate with virtual events
In lieu of parades and other festive events, there is a multitude virtual experiences you can attend to celebrate.
The Museum of London has planned a virtual festival from February 11 to February 14, and includes mask-making, puppeteering and role-play adventure workshops. It’s free on Zoom, tickets are available here.
Burgh House & Hampstead Museum is hosting an exclusive event on Facebook Live on February 21, which includes Chinese calligraphy, clay making, craft sessions and a live Kung Fu show. Although it’s free, you must download a ticket prior to the event for access, which you can get here.
On February 12, Royal Museums Greenwich will be broadcasting special Lunar New Year performances, including an Erhu recital from musician Duong Yang, on their Facebook page from 4pm.
Have a virtual cooking session with family and friends
Although we can’t meet up with people or go out to eat, it doesn’t mean you can’t still share your favourite dishes with your loved ones.
Arrange a Zoom, FaceTime or Skype call with whoever you’re missing this Lunar New Year, and make some Chinese cuisine together. You can catch up with each other while you cook, and sit down and eat together on camera. You can have a one-to-one or have a group call with more of your friends and family in ‘one place’.
The Year of the Ox symbolises strength and determination, something we all need right now.
However you celebrate, we wish you a Happy Lunar New Year!
By Tia Sanders