You say you want to celebrate Chinese New Year?
That’s nice, but before you do, here are a few things to keep in mind. First, it’s not necessarily Chinese New Year. It’s Lunar New Year, and a number of other cultures, including the Vietnamese and Korean, celebrate this special day.
Why isn't it celebrated on Jan. 1? Because a huge chunk of the world doesn't get its calendar from Rome. Some people in other parts of the world use the movement of the moon rather than the sun to track the passing year. Like Easter, a moveable feast whose date is based on a lunar calendar, there is no fixed date for Lunar New Year, which can fall anywhere from mid-January to mid-February.
This year, the official date is Feb. 1.
Naturally, any holiday that offers food, fireworks, gifts and parties in mid-winter is going to appeal to party-loving Westerners, too. For non-Asians planning an “Asian-inspired” party with decor, outfits and menu it’s best to find a respectful way to join the party. (“Yellowface” is real, and it is bad.
“Learn the history. Do the research. There’s a fine line between appropriation and appreciation,” advises Jin-Ya Huang, artist and founder of Break Bread, Break Borders, an educational and catering organization that helps female refugees from war zones enter the restaurant industry.
You can find plenty of information online about the special foods and performances used to mark the holiday, but perhaps a better way to start the new year right would be to connect with your Asian friends and neighbors and talk to them about the holiday's traditions. DFW has a large and booming Asian population, so finding someone willing to share shouldn't be too hard, and making new friends and building bridges is a grand way to kick off the new year.
One of those traditions is cleaning up before the new year, says Austin Chen, a digital marketer and food influencer. “This is called ‘sweeping away the dust,’ and represents a wish to put away old things, bid farewell to the old year and welcome in the New Year,” Chen says. “We also try to wear new clothes on new year.”
Note, however, that the traditions for Lunar New Year vary both from nation to nation and among different cultures in each country, and there are many nuances among and within the different ethnic groups. (Read here for a description of how Korea’s celebration, called Seollal
, or how Vietnamese celebrate Tết
“So the funny thing is I’ve always grown up celebrating the New Year on [January] 1st with our family,” says Esther Lee, senior strategic planner at Intertrend, an Asian American advertising agency. She remembers how the celebration was different when she was growing up in Carrollton.
“As a child, I loved wearing the hanbok, Korean traditional attire, and also bowed to my parents and grandparents to receive their blessings and gift money,” Lee says. “Now, as an adult, sadly no more gift money.”
Vu Ly, one of the founders of the 47,500-strong Asian Grub in DFDub Facebook group
, encourages people to “go to the many events around the (area) to celebrate this joyous occasion.” Strip malls housing Asian supermarkets such as Hong Kong Market in Dallas
, Cali Saigon Mall in Garland
or Asia Times Square in Grand Prairie
have activities scheduled.
He stresses the importance of immersing in another’s culture. “They get to experience our culture and enjoy delicious food, especially that only made during this time.”
The Asian Grub community shares information on their favorite dishes, food purveyors and restaurants such as Ngon Vietnamese Kitchen
, which will be serving banh chung chien, sticky rice cakes filled with meat and split mung beans, symbolizing gratitude for elders and the homeland. They will also have a special noodle soup dish from Hanoi called Bun Thang Jan. 28 - 30. It's typically made from assembling all the leftover food at the end of the Lunar New Year celebration, but it’s is now servied regularly in Hanoi.
will be serving tteokguk, sliced rice cake soup.
“People eat dumplings during Lunar New Year to wish for prosperity. … The reason is dumplings are made in the shape of ancient money,” Huang explains. Having dishes that represent prosperity for the coming year is also echoed in Korean culture. Lee recommends trying “rice cake and dumpling soup, tteok mandooguk.”
Austin Chen expands that food list more, “There is also fish for prosperity, noodles for longevity, tangerines for luck. And sticky rice cake, (with) the same pronunciation as the Chinese word for ‘tall’ — hence, its purpose being to improve the eater’s life.”
There is so much to learn and so much to eat on this occasion. So why not jump in the celebration with respect, connecting and spreading the wealth and prosperity in the new year with the actual community?
Happy prosperous, healthy Lunar New Year to all!
Gong Xi Fa Cai!
Gong Hei Fat Choy!
Chúc mừng năm mới!
Saehae bok manhee badeuseyo!
Some places to celebrate the Lunar New Year in DFW:
Asia Times Square
2625 W. Pioneer Parkway (Grand Prairie)
The mall holds its second weekend of celebrations this weekend with food, performances and vendor booths. Feb. 5-6 brings fireworks and a traditional lion dance.
Richardson CORE District at DFW Chinatown, 400 N. Greenville Ave.
The suburban home of a sizeable Asian population celebrates the coming Year of the Tiger on Feb. 5 with performances, food and vendors.
Ngon Vietnamese Kitchen
1907 Greenville Ave. (Dallas)
Celebrate Tet, the Vietnamese new year festival, with special dishes, distribution of lucky envelopes and a lion dance Jan. 28-30.
AT&T Discovery District and The Exchange Hall
211 S. Akard St. (Downtown)
The popular new gathering spot offers its 2022 Lunar New Year Celebration with a DJ, food from Monkey King Noodle Co., cocktails, a lion dance and more 12-5 p.m. Feb. 5.
13350 Dallas Parkway
It will host the HD Lion Dance Foundation, which will perform a dragon dance at noon Saturday, Feb. 5, on level one in front of Sephora. The mall will be decorated with red lanterns Jan. 28-Feb. 28 to mark the event.