I’m not sure when it happened, but going to Chinatown for Chinese New Year has become quite a tradition for me. When I was younger I was fascinated by the imagery of the dragon, the sounds of the Chinese drums and symbols and the taste of authentic Chinese food. All these years later I still go. And I still feel like a little kid when I do.
Things I love about Chinese New Year:
- I can buy and eat fortune cookies in bulk (OK so I can do this all year round if I go to Chinatown, but Chinese New Year gives me a guilt-free excuse to).
- I get to come home with another piece of pretty non-essential Chinese New Year memorabilia. (Over the years I’ve picked up mini handcrafted dragon puppets, a Chinese drum, an embroidered horse hanging decoration and countless photos of Chinese lanterns hanging in and around Leicester square.)
- Touched on this above- There are lanterns hanging everywhere! London looks so pretty.
- I look around and there are hundreds of people all trying to get a glimpse of the lion collecting the cabbages and red envelopes hung above the doorways of shops and restuarants. (Green cabbage symbolises fortune and red symbolises good luck.)
The Chinese zodiac is a 12-year-cyle of animals: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. It’s the year of the horse this year (you can see which animal corresponds with your birth year by looking at the table below).
Tips for a good Chinese New Year:
- Wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be walking quite a bit.
- If you’re planning to eat in Chinatown, it’s definitely worth booking ahead. (As you can imagine the queues are pretty epic.)
- Take cash so you too can stock up on non-essential Chinese memorabilia (paper dragons, mini Chinese drums and firecrackers.)
- If you’re not a fan of big crowds go in the afternoon. It’s much more calmer at this time, but you can still get to experience the vibes.
Gung hei fat choi! Happy New Year!
Which animal is your Chinese zodiac sign? Did you attend any Chinese New Year celebrations this year?