Source: flickr user David Yu
One of the greatest things about living in the San Francisco Bay Area is the diversity and our ability to embrace each other’s cultures and traditions. As a relocation professional, I love hearing about my some of my client’s unique traditions they celebrate back home; being able to show them a local store where they can buy household and food items that remind them of home consistently brightens up my day. One tradition near and dear to me that we have adopted in our offices at Move Bay Area is the Chinese (Lunar) New Year. The Lunar New Year is one of the most widely celebrated holidays globally and you may hear people around you in the Bay Area wishing each other “happy new year” in February!
As the Bay Area is home to one of the largest Chinese-American populations in the U.S., it’s fitting that we have our own televised parades, festivals, and endless places to ring in the new year over a feast. For new Bay Areans (and locals alike) who’d like to partake but don’t know how, try out some celebrations and traditions below to ring in some luck for the year.
Living in the Bay Area, you won’t be more than 20 minutes away from a supermarket or shopping center that carries everything you’ll need to prepare for your New Year celebration. 99 Ranch markets throughout the Bay Area (in Daly City, Richmond, Fremont and Concord) and San Francisco and Oakland Chinatowns carry ingredients, supplies, and special holiday decorations. If you look hard enough, you can even purchase firecrackers in certain shops in SF’s Chinatown - but you didn’t hear that from us. This past weekend, our family rang in the “Year of the Pig” with Hot Pot, a feast of meat, veggies, and noodles dipped in a boiling broth followed by a rousing game of Mahjong which none of us entirely knew how to play.
Traditions and Practices
Lunar New Year is observed during the first fifteen days of the year of the Lunar calendar and never occurs on the same days. In 2019, Lunar New Year is celebrated on February 5th through February 19th.
Here’s how you can celebrate Lunar New Year – Year of the Pig in your home:
January 28th – February 4th:
Cleaning and decorating – You can spend several days leading up the Lunar New Year (February 5th) cleaning your home to wash away any bad luck from the previous year and to make way for new luck. Once cleaning is complete, remember to stow away brooms and dustpans, so you won’t be tempted to “sweep away” any good fortune on New Year’s Day. You can find well-wishing red banners or lanterns at your local Asian supermarkets. We got ours at 99 Ranch.
Hair grooming – Get your hair cut before New Year’s Day (definitely avoid doing this on New Year’s Day). It’s considered bad luck to cut or wash your hair on New Year’s Day because the Chinese word for “hair” is a homonym for “prosperity.”
Debts – Settle any debts that you owe before New Year’s Day or you may set yourself up for owing or borrowing for the entire year to come.
New Year’s Eve Reunion Dinner – The Reunion dinner is arguably the most important and favorite New Year’s tradition as sharing this meal signifies family unity. Dinner should feature dishes that bring good fortune such as fish (prosperity), dumplings (wealth), noodles (longevity) and desserts (sweet life). If you’re feeling flush and live by the motto “spend money to make money”, make reservations at one of the countless banquet restaurants in the Bay Area and order set New Year’s dinners. The kitchen staff will handle everything, serving you several courses of delicious food throughout the night. With some restaurants seating 100s of people, the banquet meal is a sight to behold and a staple of Chinese culture; loud relatives, live seafood fished out of tanks, and some great people watching.
For a more affordable home dinner, but no less boisterous, try Hot Pot. Similar to Japanese Shabu Shabu,