Year Of The Horse

新年快乐! Happy Chinese New Year to everyone!

Today is the first day of the Lunar New Year and the ways of celebrating are day and night compared to the New Years we know.

If you are born in 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966, 1954 or 1942, this is your year! Your Chinese zodiac sign is the Horse; they are known for being hard-working, motivating and clever.

The Chinese are all about being prosperous, good fortune and health. There are little traditions we do to ensure that the new year treats us well.

Starting the festivities is usually a parade filled with fire crackers, lion dancing and children dressed in silk robes and garments.

I missed the lion dancing when I went to the fair last weekend, which sucks because it is actually my favorite part of the holidays ever since I was a little nugget. Legend has it that the echoing of the drums and the clangs of the cymbals are suppose to help scare away bad spirits.

(the lions take a few minutes to wake up but it is definitely worth checking out!)

(this one is really intense, I never seen them go on pedestals before)

Red envelopes (lai see) are one of the most recognized traditions of Chinese New Year. Children and unmarried young adults will tell their elders Gong Hay Fat Choi! and collect the lucky money. People you are not really close to will give you two dollars or so, but your family will give you anywhere from $20-$100 in the envelopes. I used to get so many when I was younger, you can see how I am not letting go of the one in my little hands in the picture below.

Also note how I am decked out in almost every shade of red possible, I think it is clear that red is the lucky color of Chinese culture.



CNY is not all fun and games, no sir. We have to start the new year fresh, so we clean the whole house the day before to sweep away bad fortune, wear new clothes and get a haircut. That way we are entering with all the bad luck gone and more space for good.

Finally, the most important tradition is to spend time with your family and enjoy a great meal together.


The CNY dinner involves pretty much everyone in your family, your closest friends and every other Asian person down your block. There are a lot of meats, hot pot, potstickers and clementines.

Some might say that this was just an excuse for me to post pictures of when I was younger and I will plead the fifth. If I could start a successful blog where I post a #tbt of myself everyday, then game over. There are so many more cultural traditions, folktales and little things to do during Chinese New Year, but I want this to be an on-going documentation for the following years.

Remember to wear red today!

Does your culture have any special activities for the new year?

Any questions you have about how we celebrate?

16 thoughts on “Year Of The Horse

  1. The Indian culture has something called Diwali which kicks off the Indian new year. It’s full of food, bright colors, and tons of celebrations…oh and money too! I love how every culture’s traditions are different and similar at the same time. πŸ™‚

  2. Adorable pictures of your younger self, Tara!
    I am from Sri Lanka – and I grew up with my mom getting us to clean the whole house before the beginning of a new year too! I love how so many different cultures have so many similar traditions!
    Those are some seriously mesmerizing lion dancers! Happy New Year – Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  3. I am going to a cooking class this weekend and the theme is Chinese New Year! We are making potstickers, pork tenderloin, bok choy & kung pao shrimp! I’m so excited about it! I don’t really have anything rich in culture like this but the Hubs is Australian so we celebrate Australia Day in January. This year we celebrated by going to get his green card! ha πŸ˜‰

  4. we do wear new clothes, clean the house, and start off the year fresh. Another thing my mom told us while growing up was on New Years day we should form good habits, be positive, and eat healthy because that sets a tone for the whole year. I grew up believing that and every year I try to not be a bum because I am afraid thats how rest of my year is going to be πŸ™‚ lovely CNY pictures esp with you mom and red attire.

  5. Gung hay fat choy Tara! I love when you post your childhood photos. You look soooo much like your Mom. The lay see is definitely one of my favorite traditions of new year’s too. I also miss my mom’s new year cake or gau, which is the sweet sticky rice cake. My Mom made the best, better than the ones you get at the stores. But she’s too tired to make it now that she’s older. Oh well, I probably couldn’t finish a whole one these days.

  6. Shoot, I was on a plane all day! I saw the decorations going up downtown last weekend and knew I needed to book some time this weekend to check out the festivities.
    Do you do moon cakes too? I don’t know what those are, I just heard about them from somewhere and was curious.

  7. Happy Chinese New Year Tara! I am also half Chinese but we never celebrated the Chinese new year unfortunately. However, Australia day just passed and since marrying an Indian, there has been no shortage of cultural celebrations!!! Thanks for posting the videos too πŸ™‚

  8. 新年快樂 Happy Chinese New Year to you too! I haven’t seen lion dancing in forever, but it’s definitely one of the fun parts. And I love red envelopes! πŸ˜‰ Even though I’m living in Taiwan, my family isn’t that “traditional” so we don’t wear all red or clean out the whole house. We did however spend more time together which is always nice.

    p.s. Your childhood pics are adorable!

  9. Happy CNY!! I remember we used to celebrate it in school and would get some red envelopes filled with a coin or too. And, hey, I’ll take any excuse to eat Chinese food! Love the photos of you as a little kid! Adorable.

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