Arts & Culture

How to Celebrate the Chinese New Year in Charlotte

Celebrate The Year of the Rabbit this Lunar New Year, the biggest celebration of the year for many Asian countries.

January 22, 2023, marks the official start of Chinese New Year, also commonly known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival. 2023 is the “Year of the Rabbit. The rabbit is the fourth animal in the Chinese Zodiac and is known to be the luckiest of all 12 animals, symbolizing mercy, elegance and beauty. Filled with symbolism, luck and ritual, Chinese New Year practices date back millennia, connecting people to both ancestors and culture. Celebrate and welcome the Chinese New Year with these Chinese traditions throughout the Charlotte area.

Tidy Up and Decorate

Area: East Charlotte, Stallings

A key element of starting off the Chinese New Year is a thorough house cleaning on the eve of the Spring Festival. This cleaning allows for a “sweeping away of bad luck” from the previous year and sets up the home to receive good luck in the New Year. Implementing and featuring red decor (the primary festival color) symbolizes prosperity and energy, warding off evil spirits and negativity. Hanging lanterns, paper cuttings of Chinese words and animals and door signs will usher in good luck and happiness. Both the Grand Asia Market in Stallings and East Charlotte’s Super G Mart carry traditional red decor to usher in the good luck of the New Year.

Dumplings from Sun's Kitchen

Eat a Reunion Dinner

Neighborhood: Wesley Heights

Held on New Year’s Eve (this year on Jan. 21), reunion dinners bring families together, with food served in abundance to be blessed with good fortune, with the spirits of ancestors being invited to join in the festivities.

Making and eating dumplings on Chinese New Year's Eve is a very important tradition in China, with the dish symbolizing replacing the old with the new. Owner of Sun's Kitchen, Brian Sun, who grew up on the streets of Beijing, has brought the sights and smells of Chinese street food culture to the Queen City with dishes inspired by family recipes from Sun’s father, passed down for generations. The team at Sun's Kitchen makes these dumplings entirely from scratch and offers a Dumpling Flight featuring a variety of flavors. For authentic hot pot and dumplings, Bao Bao in Huntersville offers items like Sheng Jian Bao, Xiao Long Bao and Jiang Rou Bao.

Chinese New Year desserts, like sesame seed balls, can be found at East Charlotte’s Hong Kong Bakery tucked inside the Super G Mart.

Three Stripes Lion Dance

Learn a Dragon Dance

Neighborhood: Ballantyne, West Charlotte

Symbolizing power, wisdom and superiority, lion dances are performed to bring about good fortune and chase away bad spirits. When performed during the Chinese New Year, the dance is intended to bring prosperity and good luck.

Dragons are also a symbol of wisdom and power (as well as wealth) and, like lions, are believed to bring about good luck for the New Year. The Chinese New Year came about as a way to honor ancestors and the dragon dance, dating back to the Han Dynasty, was a ceremony for worshiping ancestors and praying for rain. In the spirit of this tradition, lion and dragon dances remain an important facet of Chinese New Year Celebrations.

Presented by the Charlotte Chinese Immersion Storytime, South County Library will host a Chinese New Year Exhibition Jan. 28 for songs, crafts and an opportunity to learn a luck-inducing dragon dance. On Jan. 21, the Chinese American Association of Charlotte will host a New Year celebration from noon to 7 p.m. at East Voyager Academy, with performances running from 2-5 p.m.

Chinese red envelopes

Send Loved Ones Well Wishes

It’s custom to share blessings with family and friends during the Spring Festival celebration. One way to do that is to gift them money in lucky red envelopes as a symbol of love and well wishes during Chinese New Year.

Other customary gifts are tea and food, including fruit baskets with apples and oranges which symbolize safety and fortune. These gifts can be picked up in stores throughout the city, like East Charlotte’s Oriental Foods, South Charlotte’s Kim Anh Oriental Groceries & Gifts and North Charlotte’s New Century Oriental Food Supermarket.