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Tomorrow, Friday, January 31st is the Chinese New Year – bringing in the Year of the Horse. One of China’s oldest and most celebrated holidays, the new year is an opportunity for families to reunite and welcome good fortune for the upcoming year.  The Chinese calendar can be traced back to the 14th century, BC, and this is year 4712!

DragonCelebrations and festivals will be held world-wide, with the largest events happening on China’s mainland, as well as Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore.  London’s festival is considered the largest outside of Asia.  Here in the United States, celebrations will be held in Chinatowns in New York, San Francisco, and more locally, Philadelphia.

For those of us not venturing out to celebrate, we’ve put together some ideas for you to bring the traditions and excitement of Chinese New Year closer to home:

Learn about Chinese Astrology.

This is the year of the Wooden Horse.  Apparently I am a gentle sheep, when I always thought I was a merry monkey.  Go figure.

Sweep Away the Bad Luck.

It’s believed that cleaning your home will sweep away the previous year’s bad luck and make way for good luck & fortune to enter your home again.  Just get it done before the 31st, and then STOP!  Don’t sweep away any of the new, good luck this weekend!  It’s a free pass for a chore-free weekend (thank you thank you thank you).

  • Clean floors, vacuum, and dust.
  • Change bed sheets.
  • Clean out your car.
  • Wash your hair Thursday night, but not Friday!

Practice a little Feng Shui

Apparently the Wooden Horse is a strong, free-spirited, minimalistic animal.  I know nothing about Feng Shui, so I’ll be reading this one and trying to figure out how to keep my home free-spirited and simple along with you.  A post for another time, perhaps?

Decorate.

Display some RED decorations: bring in flowers, use a red table-cloth, wear a red sweater (because, you know, Polar Vortex).  Set out sweet treats like Mandarin oranges or candies – but only in even numbers or pairs.  The number 8 is considered lucky!

TraditionalMealEat Well.

Make a traditional Chinese meal, or do like us, and order out from one of your local Mercer County restaurants!  The list below was crafted in a very scientific and objective survey of all of MercerMe’s Facebook friends, my willing-to-eat-out coworkers, and enhanced with the not-at-all-unreliable Yelp reviews.  #thatshowwedo

 

Sushi & other suggestions:

Get creative.

This winter has been full of opportunities for crafts.  Thank you, Polar Vortex.  Take this weekend to step away from the PlayDoh and give the munchkins a little culture lesson while you’re crafting.  Show them things that come from China, like your iPhone.  Kidding.  Jump over to Pinterest and get the crafty instructions for horses, lanternsdragons, puppets and drums.  That ought to get you through Sunday.

Talk the talk.

If you’re really ambitious, consider signing your kids up for Mandarin lessons.  My girls have been taking a weekly Mandarin lesson through their daycare – Little C is quite taken with it and has perfect annunciation (brag brag brag).  Ms. An Yank of Lawrenceville works with several Mercer County charter schools and daycares providing lessons.  I recently spoke with An about her passion for teaching, and apparently she’s been flooded with requests for lessons which has inspired her to pull together a website with contact information.  I’ll share that info when I have it!

So,  have some fun, order in some wontons and Gong Xi Fa Cai (happy new year)!

Dragon photo via Flickr

Traditional Meal photo via Flickr

Red Lanterns photo via Flickr

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Also a transplant to New Jersey and Mercer County, Merritt McGlynn is walking a tightrope between career woman and devoted mother: hanging on for dear life with her dishpan hands. Merritt is a mom to two of the most adorable children in Jersey: a darling and spunky 4-year-old and a certifiably insane but heart-melting almost-3-year-old. Married to the always-working "Coach", Merritt tries to maintain some appearance of a work-life balance, and often finds that the scales are usually tipped in one direction or the other - but she’s still trying! In her spare time, if she ever gets any, Merritt would like to read books, travel with her husband, drink margaritas on the deck, and one day, if she’s really lucky, enjoy a phone conversation without interruptions. For now, she’ll settle for 20 minutes of an Audrey Hepburn movie and a diet coke.

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