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How I Celebrate Chinese New Year

Because I am both Chinese and American, Chinese New Year is important to me because it’s a great way to celebrate and honor my family’s cultural heritage and traditions.

Chinese New Year marks the Lunar New Year and it’s a time to start fresh with hopes for luck and happiness. Our celebrations involve fireworks and firecrackers to scare away evil spirits from the new year and we eat foods that are auspicious, such as moon cakes and desserts called "red turtles" because red is a lucky color and turtles are a symbol of a long, healthy life.

Here are some other foods my family eats for Chinese New Year:

Citrus

It’s customary for guests to bring citrus fruits such as mandarins to their host or hostess. They’re a sweet symbol of good fortune and are eaten as dessert at the end of the celebratory meal.

Hot Pot

As social as it is traditional, hot pot is piping hot broth (usually kept hot over a camp stove at the table) that thinly-sliced raw meats and vegetables are dipped in to cook — think fondue-style. It’s a fun and delicious communal activity that results in a soup that constantly changes flavor as the night goes on. If you’re going to have a hot pot at your table this year, try making your own Homemade Vegetable Broth or Golden Chicken Broth.

Dumplings

I started making these with my mother at a pretty young age. She would prepare the filling and I would help seal the pork, scallion, ginger and mushroom mixture into the dumpling wrappers. Dumplings are like little treasures of flavor that are said to bring prosperity into the new year.

Here are recipes for Spicy Asian Dumpling Soup and Pork Dumplings with Dipping Sauce that may even rival my mother’s (don’t tell her I said that)!

Noodles

Noodles represent longevity and are usually served alongside the hot pot. During my grandmother’s birthday celebrations, we would search for the longest noodle in our bowls and present them to my grandmother for her to eat. I have a really big family, so she always had plenty of noodles to eat! Try Asian Noodle Soup, Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup, Sesame-Peanut Noodles or Chinese-Style Longevity Noodles

My favorite part of Chinese New Year is watching a dragon dance or lion dance where a team of dancers gets into one big bright dragon or lion costume and dances to drums and clanging cymbals.

What’s your favorite way to celebrate Chinese New Year?