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How to celebrate the Lunar New Year and welcome the tiger

Lunar New Year, also referred to as Chinese New Year, is the largest and most important celebration for the Chinese community. The festival is also celebrated in Vietnam (known as Tet), North and South Korea (known as Seollal) and Tibet (known as Losar).

Lunar New Year begins on the new moon occurring between the end of January and the end of February. It lasts until the full moon arrives on day 15 of the New Year. This year, Lunar New Year falls on Tuesday, February 1, and celebrations continue until February 15, 2022. Being such a significant celebration, the official public holiday lasts for seven days in China.

Welcoming the year of the tiger

Each year the Chinese calendar is represented by one of 12 zodiac animals: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Each animal has their own respective set of attributes, and Lunar New Year marks the passage from one animal to the next.

2022 is the year of the tiger. Recent tiger years include 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962 and 1950. The zodiac tiger symbolizes strength and bravery. People born in years of the tiger are said to be courageous and independent, charming and well-liked, with endless energy and a thirst for adventure. To help you celebrate and learn more about Lunar New Year traditions, we’ve compiled some fun ways for you to welcome the Year of the Tiger.

daughter enjoying traditional snacks while helping her mother to prepare red envelops at home for Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year traditions

Celebrating Lunar New Year is a wonderful way to learn more about Asian culture and try something new, like a new food or recipe. Each day of the Lunar New Year includes important customs, such as attending the all-important family reunion dinner on New Year’s Eve or visiting your in-laws on the second day of the New Year. Here are traditional ways to enjoy the New Year at home:

Clean you home for the New Year

To rid your home of bad luck accumulated in the past year, you should sweep, scrub, mop, dust, vacuum and steam – all to make sure your home is clean before the stroke of midnight on Lunar New Year’s Eve, February 1st.

New clothes and decorating your home for the New Year

One of the oldest traditions is acquiring new clothes for the New Year. New clothing has symbolic meaning, representing the theme of change, new beginnings and ridding of the old. The new clothes are worn on the first day of the New Year, and new pyjamas may be worn to sleep on New Year’s Eve.

Red is the primary colour for clothing and decoration. It symbolizes good fortune and is believed to ward off evil spirits and negative energy. Red lanterns are hung, and scrolls printed with lucky messages are pasted on household doors and gates. Here are some decoration ideas for your home.

Red Envelopes

At Lunar New Year, it’s tradition to give children the gift of red envelopes containing money. These beautifully decorated envelopes are filled with money and symbolize well wishes and good luck for the year ahead.

Tray of Togetherness

A Tray of Togetherness is a platter of sweets families traditionally use to welcome visiting guests around the Lunar New Year. Learn more and make your own with these traditional treats.

New Year’s Eve Dinner

Spending time with family is a big part of Lunar New Year. The “reunion dinner” on New Year’s Eve is considered to be one of the most important parts of the celebration. Food also plays a significant and symbolic role throughout New Year celebrations. Here are some delicious ways to enjoy traditional dishes.

An Asian grandmother and her granddaughter preparing making glutinous rice dumplings for Lunar New Year celebration at home

Traditional Lunar New Year food (and recipes)

Certain dishes are eaten during the Chinese New Year for their symbolic meaning. Long noodles, or “longevity noodles,” are traditionally eaten during the first few days of Lunar New Year as they symbolize long life. Fish, dumplings and glutinous rice cakes are other popular dishes consumed to usher luck and prosperity into the New Year.

You can find many of these foods at local grocery stores and bakeries during the Lunar New Year period. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try making these at home, here are some traditional recipes.

Jiao Zi (Dumplings)

Boiled dumplings are traditionally served at a Chinese New Year dinner – and they are delicious. Dumplings are eaten to usher in wealth and good luck for the New Year and have two symbolic meanings.

Yi Mein (Longevity Noodles)

These noodles are eaten on Lunar New Year’s Day to bring happiness and longevity. They are longer than typical noodles and uncut, then either fried and served on a plate or boiled and served in a bowl with broth. Long-life noodles are an important celebratory dish in Chinese culture and a fun dish to make at home.

Nian Gao (Chinese New Year Cake)

Nian Gao also called "rice cake" or "Chinese New Year cake", is a traditional food made from glutinous rice flour and eaten during Chinese New Year. Learn more and try making it yourself with this recipe.

For those feeling ambitious in the kitchen, here are some additional recipes to ring in the Tiger New Year with a feast of your own at home.

A young boy helping his mother hang Lunar New Year decoration

New Year’s crafts that are great for kids

Crafts are a great way to teach your kids about a different culture and celebrate in a creative, colourful and fun way for the entire family.

At this special time of year, we wish your families happiness (sun nin fai lok), prosperity (gong hey fat choy) and good health (shen ti jian kang) during the year of the Tiger.

Share the blessings with your friends and family with our series of Lunar New Year WhatsApp stickers. You can download the free stickers here. Plus, for every sticker download, BCAA will gift S.U.C.C.E.S.S., a Vancouver-based non-profit that supports the well-being of Canadians and immigrants, a red envelope!