This year, Lunar New Year—the holiday celebrated all across Asia in different fashions—falls on the second Friday in February.
If you didn’t know, Eastern cultures celebrate the New Year on the second New Moon after the Winter Solstice (this changes each year) as part of an annual 15-day festival, following the cycle of the full moon. Rooted in Chinese folklore, the celebrations are full of unique traditions that are still practiced by millions around the world today. Like all New Years, the lunar calendar is meant to sweep out the past and bring in new luck. Festivities include fireworks, parades, red envelopes, and, of course, food.
In 2021, we’ll be living in the year of the Ox, according to the Chinese zodiac. That translates to a year defined by strength and perseverance, which I think we’re all in desperate need of right now, to be honest.
While Lunar New Year is usually celebrated as a community via big parades, yummy feasts, and city-wide festivities, this year will undoubtedly look different due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, if you’re looking to throw a virtual party, I have great news for you: Almost a full year into the pandemic, we’ve all become more or less experts on online celebrations. Like birthdays, anniversaries, even some weddings, big parties are going online. And while it’s not totally the same, something is better than nothing, and the spirit of Lunar New Year is all about being together to ring in another 365 days of prosperity. It’s a testament to the community that we can still find new and innovative ways (even if we do have Zoom fatigue more days than not) to be close while being so far apart.
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And with Lunar New Year coming up on February 12th, there’s no time like the present to gather your closest friends for a socially-distant virtual feast. Some ideas on how to get your Lunar New Year on—virtually.
Even if there’s no way to be physically together (remember: there’s still a pandemic going on), doesn’t mean we can’t eat together. Food plays a huge role in the celebration of Lunar New Year and every meal has meaning. To get fully into the holiday mood, hand-make some Lucky Dumplings while Facetiming your friends before sitting down for a meal together. I know it’s not the same as cooking together, but at least you’ll more leftovers out of it.
One of the most popular and beloved games in all of Asia, mahjong is the tile-based activity that you’ve likely seen in pop culture as of late (aka the iconic scene in Crazy, Rich, Asians). While it may look intimidating with all the symbols, mahjong is actually super simple to learn and you can play it online here with four of your closest friends. Go wild!
New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s festival
On normal, non-pandemic days, we would be lining up in the streets to watch fireworks and see the parade through Chinatown. But since all of that is understandably out of the question this year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is hosting a live-streamed festival to follow along with. Technology and all the things it can do!
Stream Asian-made films.
Even though Lunar New Year is one day out of the year, there are ways to support Asian culture all year around. Personally, I love nothing more than a good movie night and there’s not a shortage of incredible Asian American filmmakers in Hollywood. Gather your friends, buy some moon cakes from your locally owned Asian bakery, and put on The Farewell by Lulu Wang (or anything here) for some fun times.
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