The Chinese New Year is traditionally celebrated on the Lunar New Year and is a time of eating, celebrating and spending time with family and friends. The Chinese New Year will be arriving this year on Feb 16th, 2018 and is the Year of the Dog!
There are a myriad of customs and traditions for this holiday which can be traced to specific areas of China. However, many of them have common themes, decorations and gifts. Below are a few of the common traditions for the holiday, as well as places in Denver that have supplies and special events to ring in the Chinese New Year.
Psst…Since this is the Year of the Dog, you should know that Denver is ranked as one of the most dog-friendly cities in America! There are many places to take your four-legged friend that we mention in a special blog about Denver’s Dog-Friendly spots.
CELEBRATING THE CHINESE NEW YEAR IN DENVER
ONE WEEK BEFORE THE CHINESE NEW YEAR…
Clean from Top to Bottom!
Prepare for the new year by letting go of the old. Sweep out the old dirt and experiences of the past. Declutter the house so you can start the new year with a fresh environment and perspective. Feeling overwhelmed about where to begin? My mother always said to pick a corner and start cleaning out from there, but this thorough spring cleaning checklist could be helpful!
Shop for traditional New Year Gifts and Decorations
Red Envelopes filled with money are a traditional and lucky gift to give to family and friends on the Chinese New Year. You can make the envelopes at home, send them digitally using the We Chat app, or find them at the local Denver Asian Markets!
New Year Decorations are traditionally red paper lanterns, New Year door couplets, paper cuttings for luck and happiness, and upside-down Fu characters to pour out good fortune. If you are of the crafty persuasion you can make Chinese New Year Paper Lanterns and Paper Cuttings at home, or find them at the local Denver Asian Markets.
Buying new clothes is also a classic tradition and a great excuse to go shopping for a new outfit. Look for clothes that have the lucky colors of red or gold, but avoid the unlucky color black.
Psst…Denver has a few Asian Markets where you can find and purchase Chinese New Year decorations, food and more!
Park Hill Asian Market – 3770 E 40th Ave, Denver, CO 80205
Pacific Ocean Market – 2200 W Alameda Ave, Denver, CO 80223
Pacific Mercantile Company – 1925 Lawrence St, Denver, CO 80202
Truong An Gifts – 333 S Federal Blvd #116, Denver, CO 80219
ON NEW YEARS EVE…
Put up decorations and place flowers and bowls of food around to symbolize blossoming abundance and good fortune as the new year arrives. A particularly lucky food is mandarin oranges with a few leaves and stem still attached. Yellow orchids or chrysanthemums are considered lucky flowers.
Give or send red envelopes with money to children and family members.
Have dinner with family. The dinner on Chinese New Years Eve is commonly referred to as Reunion Dinner and is a big meal with family. It is believed to be the most important meal of the year and features traditional, lucky foods. Try your hand at making the traditional foods like dumplings, whole fish, spring rolls, and longevity noodles. Some of the ingredients may not be at a regular grocery store, so visit the Denver Asian Markets to get the hard to find items!
If you would rather not make the meal there are some fabulous restaurants that will serve you a delightful New Year Dinner. A few suggestions are…
Hop Alley – 3500 Larimer St, Denver, CO 80205
A modern spot with shared plates, local beer and a special events planned for the Chinese New Year.
Serving classic Chinese cuisine, this spot also delivers! You can order in your Chinese New Year’s Eve meal and save yourself the cooking.
The Bronze Empire – 1591 S Colorado Blvd, Denver, CO 80222
A popular place to enjoy hot-pot and a great place for a family dinner.
An interesting spot to sample a variety of Chinese dishes delivered by cart around the dining room. They also have a special Lion’s Dance happening multiple times during the month in the lead up to the Chinese New Year!
NEW YEAR’S DAY
It is traditional all over the world to stay up until midnight and welcome in the new year with fireworks, including the Chinese New Year! Some families set off small fireworks at their homes or you can view celebrations in China by tuning into CCTV on the internet. Please note that 12am in China(GMT+8), is 9am in Denver (MST). With the time difference you can ring in the Chinese New Year and still get to work on time!
There will be celebrations happening across Denver in the days leading up to, and on the Chinese New Year. A few places to keep an eye on would be –
Colorado Asian Cultural Heritage Center Dragon and Lion Dance Troupe – This group performs across the Front Range, especially around the Chinese New Year.
Colorado Asian Friends Meetup – They are a group open to all who are interested in learning more about Asian culture!
Denver Art Museum – The museum often has exhibits about the many cultures of Asia on display. Currently you can see Linking Asia: Art Trade and Devotion (on view through April 1, 2018); an examination of how Asian culture grew with the exchange of ideas along the Silk Road. Another exhibit to see is Eyes on Xiaoze Xie (on view through July 8, 2018), which is an exhibit based on banned and forbidden books in China.
Great Wall Chinese Academy – This academy offers Chinese Mandarin language and cultural classes for all levels, as well as special events for the Chinese New Year!
WHAT NOT TO DO ON THE NEW YEAR’S DAY
Doing the things on this list are supposed to bring good luck, but there are a few things that you should not do on the Chinese New Year!
Don’t wash clothes or hair.
The first and second day of the New Year are celebrated as the birthday of the Chinese Water God. It is believed if you wash your hair on those days you are washing away the fortune of the year. It is probably best to give it a good washing the day before the new year and let the luck settle in!
Don’t sweep or take out the garbage.
Imagine everything has a fine layer of luck on it on the Chinese New Years day. If you have been cleaning all week it is time take a break with the duster so you don’t brush the luck away!
Don’t eat porridge or meat for breakfast.
Porridge is considered a food that only the poor can afford, so start with something a little fancier to show the year that you are open to good luck and abundance! Not eating meat is done out of respect for the Buddhist gods who dislike the killing of animals and will be out and among mortals that day wishing each other “Happy New Year “.
Happy Chinese New Year from The Denver Ear!