Good fortune awaits with our take on these golden Lunar New Year traditions

Tired of the cold drab of winter? Sweater weather may not be over yet, but there’s hope on the horizon because Lunar New Year is right around the corner! Also known as the Spring Festival, Lunar New Year celebrates the arrival of spring and the New Year on the lunisolar calendar. It’s a time for family and friends to come together for a party filled with lucky foods, firecrackers, games, and of course, that sweet lucky money.

We’ve put together the ultimate list of tips and tricks for ringing in the new year, together or apart. If circumstances or distance have come between you and your family, send good luck instantly when you select an elegant Lunar New Year greeting card. If you’re hosting an auspicious party to bring good fortune and prosperity to all of your favorite people (who wouldn’t want to be invited to that shindig?), read on for firecracker tips for throwing the golden party of the year. 

 

Left: A red Lunar New Year card featuring red lanterns. | Right: A hallway lined with red lanterns.

Lantern Tassels” by Paperless Post.

 

Who celebrates Lunar New Year?

Lunar New Year ushers in the spring and new beginnings. It’s the most important holiday in China and is celebrated widely throughout Vietnam, South Korea, and countries with significant Chinese populations. For many Asian and Chinese Americans, celebrating means embracing the Lunar New Year traditions of their parents and ancestors. Lasting 15 days, it begins with the first new moon and ends on the first full moon of the lunar calendar. Hence, it never falls on the same day, but it is always between January and February on the Gregorian calendar. The week leading up to Lunar New Year is called Little Year, which is used to prepare the good fortunes for the new year. 

Traditionally, Lunar New Year festivities culminate in a big feast with family and friends. If you’re planning to host your own fabulous event, remember to send out your invitations at least two weeks before the big day to make sure your busy family and friends are sure to RSVP to your special event (and you’ll know how many dumplings to make!).

 

An animated flyer invitation featuring mandarins.

Citrus Fortune” Flyer by Paperless Post.

 

What are some Lunar New Year traditions?

Lunar New Year traditions are rooted in the idea of fresh starts and togetherness. The main event happens over New Year’s Eve with the Reunion Dinner, where family and friends come from near and far to celebrate. Ring in the new year with prosperity and good luck by adding traditional foods to your spread, setting out sweets, and indulging in rounds of mahjong and firecrackers that end your evening with a memorable bang.

 

Left: A Lunar New Year table setting with wine and flowers. | Right: A Lunar New Year invitation featuring mandarins.

Photo: Charissa Fay, “Tangerine Tree” by Paperless Post. 

 

A little of this, a little of that, a Little Year preparation 

The Reunion Dinner will be your showstopper event of the season, and because it will take some meticulous planning, you can prepare for its arrival with Little Year (or, the week leading up to the big day). We’ve gathered some of our favorite Lunar New Year traditions that you can check off your to do list during your Little Year prep.

— Decorate your home or community center with red couplets to ward away evil. Lavish your event space with red lanterns, red paper cut-outs, and firecrackers to create a lush atmosphere ripe for celebration. 

— Place clementines in each room, and make them the star of your table setting to symbolize abundance and good fortune. Go the extra mile–when choosing a Lunar New Year invitation for your upcoming party, select one with citrus front and center.

— Clean your space—referred to as “sweeping of the dust”—it bids farewell to the old and creates a welcoming space for new positive energy. 

— Swipe your card—it’s time to go shopping for new clothes, preferably in red. And don’t forget to cut your hair, as it’s believed that if you cut it after the Lunar New Year celebrations, you are cutting away the good luck.

 

An animated flyer invitation featuring a happy golden tiger.

Jolly Tiger” Flyer by Paperless Post.

 

Double-check the guest list

Make sure to invite all the people important to you, not just the ones who are living. Whereas a Lunar New Year invitation is perfect for most of your guests, the Gods have not quite caught up to RSVPing to your Paperless Post email or text. Instead—grab an incense holder and place pictures of your ancestors on a table with all the same goodies you provide to the living—clementines, candies, and even a taste of your Reunion Dinner meal. Light the incense to form a bridge between the living and the deceased and let the good times roll.

 

An overhead view of a Lunar New Year feast.

Photo: My Wedding Songbird.

 

The Reunion Dinner—a family-style Lunar New Year menu for the best year yet

Now that you and your space are in tip-top shape, it’s time to create the menu. Ah, the menu—where you get to decide the year you want. Each food in a dish symbolizes a different fortune, often based on how the words are pronounced. Although it varies by region, we recommend few staples to make sure all of your loved ones have their best year. Most ingredients are readily available in many grocery stores, but it’s always good to support your local Asian market, and if there isn’t one nearby, there’s always the internet.

Each menu has been curated to provide you and your guests an auspicious New Year. Serve it family-style with a bowl of rice for each guest. Feel free to mix and match. Whatever feels suitable for you and your guests—there’s no wrong answer here. 

 

The can-do Cantonese family dinner

An approachable yet traditional menu that will inspire your Lunar New Year party preparations. Come for the homemade egg rolls and stay for the deeply savory soup.

Egg rolls

Long-life vegetable noodles

Poached chicken with ginger and scallion sauce

Steamed whole fish

Lotus root and pork soup

Nian Gao

 

A close up of a dumpling and dipping sauce.

Photo: The Woks of Life.

 

The vegetarian Lunar New Year dinner

Prefer to eat vegetarian for your culinary feast? You don’t have to skip on sweet and savory flavors and delightful surprises with this menu (we’re eyeing seconds on those walnut cookies…). 

Dumplings

Buddha’s delight

Egg drop tomato soup

Yu choy sum

Chinese walnut cookies

 

A hot pot spread with lots of vegetables in individual containers.

 

The hottest potluck dinner

For a potluck to warm your bellies on even the coldest of winter evenings, all you need is a pot of hot broth. Either pick from one of the many flavor packets available or make your own bone broth. You can choose to supply the food yourself or add a twist and ask guests to bring one of their favorites to share. You can even ask what people are bringing directly on your Lunar New Year invitations

Pro-tip, if you don’t have a full hot pot set up, an Instant Pot put on “saute” function works too. Here are our favorite must-have ingredients to get you started: 

 

– Thinly shaved beef

– Salmon

– Fishballs

– Tofu

– Mushrooms (trumpet, enoki, shiitake, wood ear)

– Fresh noodles

– Napa cabbage

– Watercress 

 

Setting the mood

There are as many Lunar New Year songs as Christmas tunes if you know how to search. For us, an excellent place to start would be with Sam Hui’s BTB album on Spotify and then let the algorithm take it away.

 

Left: A Lunar New Year invitation featuring a red envelope. | Right: A small child excited to receive a red envelope at a Lunar New Year party.

Red Envelope” by Paperless Post.

 

Gift giving

Lucky money is the name of the game, and as far as Lunar New Year traditions go, it’s not to be missed. Married couples gift money to single people and children as a way to provide good fortune and luck in the new year. At most modern Lunar New Year parties, single people choose to gift lucky money if they feel generous. If you’re on the fence, we think it’s always a nice gesture to fill some lucky red envelopes with a few bucks to give each of your guests. We suggest going one step further and gifting lucky numbers $6 or $8. Never give $4. 

 

Left: A nighttime canal scene with lit Lunar New Year lanterns. | Right: A novelty Lunar New Year invitation in the shape of a lantern.

Floral Lantern” by Paperless Post.

 

Wishing someone a Happy Lunar New Year

In Cantonese, you can greet all your guests with “Gong hei fat choy,” which means “wishing you great happiness and prosperity.” Or, you could say “xin nian hao” (shin nee-an how), which is Mandarin for “Happy Chinese New Year” for your friends and family. There are many ways to wish your loved ones a prosperous new year. Paperless Post makes it simple with beautiful and auspicious Lunar New Year greeting cards. Plus, if you’d like to write in your language of choice, just reach out to our Personal Design Services team, who can help you add characters from any language to your cards for an extra-special touch.

 

Planning your Lunar New Year party with Paperless Post

Whether you’re planning a community affair or a small intimate gathering, it’s always important to make sure your Lunar New Year invitations set the right tone. 

With Paperless Post, you can feel confident that your invites radiate positive vibes and good fortune for your Lunar New Year party. Make sure it includes all the essential details like date, time, and location. If you’re hosting a digital party, don’t forget to include the link to join the party. And if your party animals are less familiar with Lunar New Year traditions, it’s always a good idea to have an informational block to introduce them to the party to come.

Planning a big event? Don’t stress. Paperless Post includes online RSVP tracking to keep your guest list in check—plus, you can message guests directly from the site. 

Plan your next Lunar New Year party today with a little help from Paperless Post!

 

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