Out With the Old and In With the New: Celebrating Chinese New Year in Boston

January 29, 2019 | , ,
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Celebrating Chinese New Year in Boston

Next week marks the beginning of the Chinese, or Lunar, New Year celebrations. It’s also called the Spring Festival, signifying the ending of the coldest days, even though it’s usually still chilly outside. We are about to welcome in the year of the Pig with resounding oinks! The Pig is 12th in line of all zodiac animals and is a symbol of wealth. February 5th is day one of China’s lunar calendar and the official start of Chinese New Year in 2019 and we’re excited for the festivities here in Boston. There are many traditions surrounding the celebration of the new year, one very important one being food of course. We’re here to guide you on how you can celebrate Chinese New Year here in Boston to the fullest.

1. Have New Year’s Eve Reunion Dinner

chinese new year reunion table

Photo Credit: @civic_jay via Instagram

Family is of utmost value in Chinese culture, which is why spending time with family is imperative on New Year’s Eve. A reunion dinner is held each year on New Year’s Eve where all family members attend. If someone cannot make it a place setting is still set for them to represent their spot. The feast is prepared with offerings for the gods and all of the food served has symbolic meaning behind it. These dishes are created to ring in the new year with blessings and prosperity. Oh yeah, and they are delicious! Consider preparing a special meal at home or reaching out to family to spend time with them. Whether you celebrate lunar new year or not it’s a nice time to reach out to family and have a meal together.

2. Eat Dumplings for Prosperity in the Coming Year


Photo Credit: @auburnkingsejong via Instagram

One of the traditional foods found on Chinese New Year celebration tables is dumplings. You mean it’s encouraged to eat dumplings? Don’t have to tell us twice! Eating dumplings is symbolic of sending away the old and welcoming in the new. They are often made in the shape of Chinese silver ingots and the act of wrapping up the dumplings signifies wrapping in the fortune, wealth, and prosperity for the next year. Legend has it that your prosperity for the next year is directly connected with how many dumplings you eat during the New Year celebrations, so eat up.

3. Attend the Chinese New Year Parade

dancing lions

Photo Credit: @murcia73 via Instagram

Head to Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood on Sunday February 17th for the annual Chinese New Year Parade. It begins at 11am and goes until 4pm beginning in Philips Square (on the corner of Harrison Avenue and Beach Street) and continuing on to Essex Street and other nearby streets in Chinatown. Expect to see colorful groups of lion dancers, drums, firecrackers, and great food. Enjoy watching this beautiful tradition fill the streets!

4. Drink Wine

chinese wine bottle

Photo Credit: chinesenewyear.net

You read that right. Go ahead. Drink wine! While China is known for its tea drinking culture its wine culture actually goes just as far back in history and is just as important. Wine was often used in traditional Chinese medicine, so if you’ve ever thought that a glass of wine was just the medicine you needed you weren’t entirely wrong. For the New Year’s Eve reunion dinner you’ll certainly find wine on every table. The specific kind of wine associated with the Spring Festival is nianjiu, it’s literal translation is “year alcohol.” So in honor of Chinese New Year have a glass of wine to ward off bad luck as it’s believed to do.

5. Clean!

lady mopping

Photo Credit: @perfectionclean via Instagram

No need to wait until spring! Although the thought of starting spring cleaning in February may be daunting it’ll feel good to freshen up your living space a little earlier. As part of the Chinese New Year preparation for celebration it’s traditional to completely clean your house and all of your things to signify the removal of the old and the welcoming of the new.

6. Wear Something Red or Give Something Red for Luck

chinese new year gifts

Photo Credit: @cocarestaurants via Instagram

Red is the main celebration color of Chinese New Year representing luck and success for the coming year. Red envelopes are given to family members, usually children, with money in them, red lanterns are hung in streets, and red banners adorn buildings. Put on something red in celebration of the new lunar year or give a red gift to someone you love.

7. Buy Tickets for Chinatown’s Culture & Cuisine Food Tour

chinatown tour group

Photo Credit: Bites of Boston

Tour season is right around the corner so in celebration of Chinese New Year go ahead and secure some tickets for Bites of Boston’s walking food tour of Chinatown. The Chinatown’s Culture & Cuisine tour will weave you through the streets of Boston’s Chinatown making stops at restaurants, bakeries, and sites that have been specially picked. From your friendly and knowledgeable tour guide you’ll learn about Chinatown’s past and present, enjoy both traditional Chinese and Chinese-American tastings, and discover how Chinese-American cuisine evolved and led to Boston-specific dishes. It’s a blast, so go and get your tickets now!




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