How I Plan On Celebrating Chinese New Year and My 30th Birthday

This year, the start of the Chinese New Year coincides with my 30th birthday, Feb. 3, 2011. Being a Caucasian-American of mostly English descent, sporting milky-white skin topped off with strawberry-gold locks, it’s fairly excusable that the majority of my knowledge of the Chinese New Year came from the local Chinese restaurant’s placemat and a few elementary school friends 20-some years ago. This year, however, the Chinese new year knocked me over, demanding I pay attention.

Why do I care about the Chinese New Year this year?

First and foremost, my parents are moving to China for three years to fulfill my dad’s foreign assignment from Ford Motor Company. Nutty and wonderfully exciting.

Secondly, I don’t know if it’s heightened awareness, due to the aforementioned move, or if it’s an initiative from the Chinese government, but I see something China-related in the news every day. Every day.

My third hint at my new Chinese connection came from an email with a prospective employer. I was gently reminded that it is the year of the Rabbit, “where negotiation and persuasion over force are key!” According to, this year will be “a placid year, very much welcomed and needed after the ferocious year of the tiger. We should go off to some quiet spot to lick our wounds and get some rest after all the battles of the previous year.” I will happily say goodbye to the nutty Year of the Tiger, where friends lives were in disarray, my two-year project came to an end, and I made a lot of “real life” decisions that were less than enjoyable to make.

The fourth inkling that my life was becoming increasingly “Chinese” came when a dear friend and I were discussing how January 2011 has been a bit of a disappointment. We set the date of Feb. 2 to “exorcise” January, letting go of the stress, illnesses and uncertainty of the month, ringing in a better new year. This was before I realized that Feb. 2 was Chinese New Year’s Eve.

And just in case those four “coincidences” weren’t enough, the fifth and final nail in the Chinese New Year coffin came this weekend, when I worked on a Chinese DirecTV commercial.

At that point, I figured I better start taking this stuff seriously.

Thus, tonight I will celebrate the Lunar/Chinese New Year’s Eve. Tomorrow, while I will be celebrating my 30th, I will also be ushering in the year of the Rabbit.

How I’m celebrating the Chinese New Year and my 30th…
As I’ve already established, I could not be farther from Chinese. It’s been roughly 20 years since my best friends were Chinese. Researching the customs and traditions has been new, exciting and enlightening. I don’t know how many are still in regular practice, but here’s what I plan on doing with the traditions, with the exception of the red envelope practice. (Gotta save something for next year, right?)

…with food.
For birthday dinner, we’ll be serving homemade pizzas. The circular nature of the pizza will represent the “togetherness” of the traditional circular candy tray for Chinese New Year.

We’ll be snacking on mandarin oranges, as they symbolize bringing riches and fortune to the family.

Chocolate-dipped oranges will be served for dessert, not only because they are delicious, but because oranges represent good health and long life. Oh, and the chocolate will represent the candy, which brings a sweeter year.

…with decorations.
Fresh flowers are in the house, ready to bloom and prosper on new year’s day. Come on prosperous year!

There won’t be sweeping or cleaning on my birthday, for I don’t wish to sweep away the newly arrived good luck. (Man, I love this custom.)

I will, however, clean everything before Thursday in an effort to rid my world of last year’s luck and fortune, making room for new fortune and new luck.

…with clothing.
I will wear red underwear and paint my nails red for happiness, and to scare away evil spirits and bad fortune.

Donning a new dress will represent a fresh start, as well as symbolize having more than enough things to use and wear in the new year.

I will brush my gold hair, since the color gold represents wealth. (Boy, if that were all it took, I’d be RICH.)

…with people.
Who knows, I may even head downtown to the Chinese New Year parade this year, whattya say?

Happy birthday to me…

Kung Hei Fat Choy! (Wishing You Prosperity and Wealth!) :)