Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year and Spring Festival, is on Tuesday February 1st, 2022 and begins the Year of the Tiger. It is the most celebrated holiday in China and is actually celebrated by ¼ of the world’s population. Similar to 2021, we find ourselves once again having to safely navigate our way through an important holiday under the threat of Covid.
On the very bright side, we are vaccinated and boostered now so we are more protected. We are also much more comfortable with the precautions like wearing masks and social distancing. Basically, we’ve come a long way since last year so, let’s shake off the Covid fatigue and plan to safely celebrate Chinese New Year during Covid and still honour its traditions.
How to Safely Celebrate Chinese New Year During Covid and Still Honour Traditions
Below, we have highlighted a few of the common traditions associated with Chinese New Year and explore how they can continue either unchanged or how they can be made Covid-safe.
Decorations are believed to keep evil away and add to New Year blessings for health, peace, prosperity, and longevity. There is no reason why this has to change due to Covid so cover your surroundings with those beautiful red lanterns, red couplets, paper cut-outs, and New Year’s paintings. Also, as the Year of the Tiger is roaring in this year, be sure to add tiger images to all your decorations. Click/tap here to learn more about Chinese New Year decorations.
Large Family Reunions and Meals.
Generally, Chinese New Year is a time for large family celebrations. Family will travel to gather together and there are often several generations enjoying a meal around the table. Unfortunately, indoor Covid restrictions may make this difficult this year but there is a way of making it work.
The host of the dinner can prepare the meal in advance and deliver portioned food to those they would normally invite (within driving distance) or arrange for them to pick-up the food. Then you can set a pre-arranged time for everyone to eat together over Zoom. Or everyone can also cook their own meal too to be eaten together over Zoom. It’s not ideal but it’s a way to continue this tradition during these challenging times.
3 Chinese New Year Superstitions: (1) Families sweep their home before the Chinese New Year celebrations and avoid doing so on New Year's Day, because it could "sweep" away good luck; (2) Avoid porridge for breakfast because it could lead to being poor in the new year; and (3) Washing one's hair or clothing on New Year's Day would "wash away" good luck.
Offerings to Ancestral Spirits.
You can still incorporate this important tradition just before the meal time. You can either do it over Zoom for everyone to do together or each family can do this on their own prior to eating. The purpose to placing food and other offerings out prior to the meal is so that the ancestors can eat first. Ancestral spirits are believed to protect their descendants and help them prosper.
The long standing tradition of getting dressed up (sometimes in traditional clothes) and smiling for a family portrait is usually done in a professional studio. Luckily, we all now have quite good cameras on our phones so there is no reason why this tradition can’t continue in the safe, comfort of your home. You can still incorporate all the elements, poses and groupings of people you would want taken in a professional studio but you can take it yourself and still smile just as big 😁
Watching/Streaming CCTV New Year Celebrations.
A great way to stay connected to the celebration is to watch this event featuring traditional, folk, and modern performances from China’s best singers, dancers, and acrobats. Check your local listings/services to see how you can watch this special event in your area.
Oranges and Tangerines and Chinese New Year festivities. They are believed to bring good luck and fortune due to their pronunciation and characters. The Chinese word for orange (and tangerine) sounds the same as the Chinese word for 'success'. One of the ways of writing tangerine contains the Chinese character for luck.
Giving red envelope gifts.
Red is the colour of luck and gifting family and friends with a beautiful red envelope with cash inside is the most common gift to give. It is not so much the money as it is the envelope itself. It is believed to ward off negativity and evil spirits and promote prosperity and good luck.
You can still distribute red envelopes when following all safety protocol. You can:
- Plan a time and leave gifts on their porch or a car in their driveway;
- Meet up by car and do a socially distanced gift exchange in your cars or do it outdoors (you may have to bundle up depending on your climate).
- Mail the red envelope with a note advising them their gift will be electronically transferred so you are not mailing cash.
The Lion Dance.
In Chinese culture, the lion symbolizes power, and wisdom. People perform lion dances at Chinese festivals or big occasions to bring good fortune and chase away evil spirits. The lion dance is one of the most important traditions at Chinese New Year as they bring good luck for the new year. If you can’t attend (or if they are cancelled in your area), you can watch them online or even buy or make costumes for your pets that you would typically see in the lion parade and dress them up too.
Firecrackers and fireworks are set off at the stroke of midnight to scare away evil spirits and celebrate the coming of the new year. They are also set off during the Lantern Festival which marks the end of the celebration of Chinese New Year. Fireworks are believed to ward off misfortune and bring good luck. If you are unable to attend a fireworks display, you can plan your own outdoor fireworks display at home or in your area. You can also watch fireworks displays happening around the globe.
We hope these ideas will allow you to enjoy the traditions of this very special holiday while keeping yourself and loved ones safe. With a little creativity and an open mind, we can still welcome a new year of prosperity, health and luck. Just because it looks different doesn’t mean it’s any less meaningful. The traditions and blessings will still unite you with your loved ones.
Will you be celebrating Chinese New Year? Will you be trying any of these suggestions? Do you have any other ideas to help celebrate Chinese New Year during Covid? Let us know in the comments.
Happy New Year! Make a promise to be kind to yourself and others. Practice self-care for your health and wellness.