Lunar New Year Traditions New and Old

preschool children wearing Chinese New Year clothing

My parents did not put up couplets, or take us to the Chinatown parade. I can’t remember if we celebrated Lunar New Year. When I became a mom I started celebrating this holiday with my children. I got to experience many of these traditions for the first time together as a family. As a Taiwanese American raising bicultural children, this is how we celebrate Lunar New Year traditions old and new.

1. Make Lunar New Year Decorations

We start decorating our home for Lunar New Year shortly after Christmas. Decorating your home for Lunar New Year is not just to be festive. Many decorations are red to usher in good fortune or ward off bad luck. Each year I design new Easy Lunar New Year Crafts to create with my children.

happy children sitting under red paper lanterns and chinese new year decorations

2. Cook Special Dishes

With family far away, I often feel lonely thinking of loved ones gathering for reunion dinner. We have a quiet dinner at home, usually with our favorite dishes like steamed crab and sushi rather than traditional foods.

Crab — a symbol of fortune

You may have read that crab is an unlucky food to avoid, but crab sales during Lunar New Year tell a different story! This year Dungeness crab season in California began in December. What auspicious timing for crab lovers! This is my favorite recipe for steamed crab with garlic noodles.

Steamed Live Crab and Garlic Noodles

Potstickers — a symbol of prosperity!

This dish became a popular Chinese New Year staple because the dumplings resemble gold ingots. They are eaten to bring wealth and prosperity for the coming year. One of our Lunar New Year traditions is spending one morning make a big batch of dumplings to keep in the freezer. Here is my easy Potsticker recipe

boy holding a tray of uncooked potstickers

汤圆 (Tāngyuán)

This dessert is a childhood favorite of mine and always reminded me of winter. Nowadays you can eat these chewy glutenous rice balls year round. They are often included in Chinese New Year meals because the round shape symbolizes reunion, a time when family members return from work and school and spend the holiday together.

Fun 汤圆 (Tāngyuán) recipe to make with kids

round and heart shaped tang yuan 愛心湯 圓

3. Read books about Lunar New Year

Here’s a list of 12 of my favorite picture books about the Lunar New Year and Chinese New year. Many have both English and Chinese editions.

Chinese New Year books in Chinese

5. Enjoy Lunar New Year Entertainment

Wish Dragon on Netflix
Over the moon
Mulan, Turning Red and Raya and the Last Dragon on Disney+

Dance and sing along to these Chinese New Year songs shared by Spot of Sunshine.

Listen to this podcast about Lunar New Year celebrations by Our Chinese and English Journey.

Everything You Can Teach Your Kids About Chinese New Year With Videos

5. Learn About Culture Through Worksheets

Print these free educational resources to keep your little ones entertained.

Chinese Zodiac printables by EdKids
Lunar New Year coloring sheets by Jocelyn Sheppard
Tons of free Chinese New Year printables by
Free lion dance coloring sheet from Kids Academy

6. Attend Local Lunar New Year Events

Lunar New Year feels like an entire season in the California Bay Area. The 2020 census data shows a 30% increase in the Asian American population in the Bay Area since 2010. There are many events celebrating Lunar New Year, the largest being the San Francisco Chinatown parade. In the Bay Area, libraries host smaller Lunar New Year events that are suitable for families with younger children. During the Lunar New Year, we put on our traditional Chinese clothing and attend local festivals to watch the lion dancers, fireworks, and Chinese acrobats, listen to music, and eat festive foods.

Personal Lunar New Year Stories from Around the World

Lunar New Year is celebrated by many countries around the world including Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Korea, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines. In the United States, the Lunar New Year is now an official holiday in California!

Below are some personal Lunar new Year experiences from across the globe!

Learn all about Lunar New Year in Taiwan by Nick of Spiritual Travels.
How Canyon, an American expat celebrates Spring Festival in Shangai.
Marcie shares all about Chinese New Year celebrations in Hawaii.
Po Tim King shares her Lunar New Year Experience in Hong Kong.

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