If you are living or studying far from home, you have probably felt a little more homesick during major holidays before. This year, the Chinese New Year’s celebrations will kick off all around the world celebrating the Year of the Dog.
The Chinese New Year is the most festive and long-awaited event of the year for the Chinese. It is a time during which people go home to celebrate with their loved ones. Families gather together for meals to catch up and continue the traditions that have been shared over the many generations.
Being far from home during such a major holiday can be hard on any one’s morale. Fortunately, there are easy ways to help tame this home-sickness feeling and still enjoy the Chinese New Year.
Have a Chinese New Year’s Eve Dinner
While it may not be possible to have every dish on your wish-list, Chinese food is fortunately extremely popular and available in most parts of the world. If you are not quite the chef like your mother, reserve a table at your favorite local Chinese restaurant. Or on the other hand, if you prefer to cook or would like to eat something that may not be served by the local restaurateurs, head to the closest Asian supermarket and get everything you need to make those traditional meals at home.
Invite Locals or Other Expats
It is always fun to share your native customs with friends that may not be familiar with your culture. Use the Chinese New Year’s celebrations as an opportunity for your local and other expat friends to get to know you and your culture better. You can invite them to prepare and enjoy a traditional meal with you or to come to a parade or festival in your town.
Go to a Chinese New Year’s Parade
From Sydney to New York, most major cities in the world have a Chinese district, or “Chinatown”, and will likely host Chinese New Year’s Parades and Festivals. Check out your local news and event calendars for details on scheduled events near you and make sure to bring friends to celebrate with you!
Video Call Your Family
Seeing someone on live feed rather than solely talking over the phone will make you feel a little closer to home. Block some time to call your family using a video-call app on your computer (WeChat is the most popular) or smartphone. You will need plenty of time as your family members will certainly be all together and will love to pass the phone around the room and catch up with you. With so many technical platforms available, it will feel like you are in the room with them!
Keep Up with the Traditions
In China, families usually decorate their houses with bright red garlands, golden banners, and lanterns. Head to your local Chinese supermarket or Chinatown and get everything you need to decorate your home, just as you would if you were back home. Don’t forget the oranges!
Another big tradition is the exchange of little red envelopes, called “hong bao”, filled with positive wishes and “lucky money”. Thanks to technology, this is a tradition you can keep up with very easily. Apps such as WeChat now offer the possibility to send electronic red envelopes to family and friends. Last year, over 46 billion electronic red envelopes were sent between January 27 (the eve of the Year of the Rooster) to February 1.
Wishing you a happy and prosperous Chinese New Year! Gong Xi Fa Cai!