My closest friend in our old town adopted her two children from China, and because the kids were the same ages as my older two, we spent many days together. Every winter, for instance, we used to gather at their house to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Since the Chinese New Year is about eating a delicious meal with family, we ordered food from a really good Chinese restaurant and ate copiously. To honor Chinese custom, my friend’s kids wore their traditional Chinese clothing, and everyone else wore red. And at the end of the meal, my friend gave all the kids small oranges and red envelopes filled with coins. For our families, Chinese New Year provided a great excuse to enjoy good food and great conversation while also teaching the kids about Chinese culture.
To create your own at-home Chinese New Year’s party, you can incorporate some of the celebration’s many traditions:
- Red decorations. Red is considered auspicious, so people typically decorate buildings and streets with red lanterns and other red ornamentation.
- Firecrackers to “sound out” the old year and “sound in” the new and drive away evil.
- A house-cleaning spree. In the few days leading up to Chinese New Year, people typically clean their homes. It’s considered bad luck to do it on the actual day.
- Red envelopes. To promote good luck and prosperity, people fill the envelopes with money and give them to their friends and family.
- Long noodles to promote longevity.
Local Chinese New Year Celebrations
For those of you who don’t want to clean your house and host a DIY celebration, you are in luck! Grab your friends and family and join local celebrations with hands-on activities, Chinese food, and cultural performances.
On Saturday, January 28, the Organization for Chinese Americans will host a free Chinese New Year Celebration at Henrico High School, from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm. While there, you can see a lion dance parade and other performances, participate in hands-on activities for kids, buy Chinese food, and browse vendor booths.
On Sunday, January 29, the Children’s Museum of Richmond will host a Chinese New Year Celebration at their Central location from 10-4. Throughout the day, you can catch a Japanese candy art demonstration by candy maker Masaji Terasawa. You can also see traditional dance performances, including a Lion Dance beginning at 10:45AM and Chinese folk dance performances by Pacific Arts Dance Troupe, Richmond Chinese Folk Dance Group, and Yu Dance Arts. The Richmond Chinese School will also offer a calligraphy station throughout the day. You can attend their event for free with museum admission.
If your kids don’t love Chinese food, head over to Chick-fil-A at Westchester Commons on Saturday from 5-7. Celebrate the “Year of the Chicken” with authentic Chinese Lion Dancers (performance at 6pm), crafts, drums from Bach 2 Rock, menu sampling and more!
For those of you with older kids, head over to Agecroft Hall to view their collection of colorful Chinese porcelain and learn the meaning behind vegetal motifs and mythological animals.
If this weekend is busy, plan to take your family to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts on Saturday, February 11 from 10 am – 5 pm for ChinaFest: Year of the Fire Rooster. You’ll have the chance to explore Chinese art and culture through fun art activities and collaborative events. There will also be demonstrations and performances by Yu Dance, The Pride: Lion Dance at UVA, Lion Dance at VCU, and Wushu martial arts. The event is free and open to the public.
Perhaps you already have a sitter scheduled for Saturday night. If so, consider a date night Chinese cooking class at Mise en Place or Sur La Table. Or, snag a table at one of Richmond’s many wonderful Chinese restaurants, and enjoy a delicious meal.
As always, there is plenty to do in RVA this weekend! Whatever you decide to do, enjoy!! And may the new year bring you and your family luck and prosperity.