Happy Chinese New Year!
Billions around the globe are celebrating the lunar holiday, which begins Thursday in the United States, this week. Here's a look at what to expect and how to increase your own luck in the year ahead.
"Year of the..."
The animal sign associated with the coming year can be interpreted in multiple ways. While the Year of the Goat, Sheep or Ram all work, many Chinese prefer to use "Year of the Sheep" because of that animal's cuddly appearance, according to The Associated Press. Organizers of China's annual New Year's Eve TV Gala managed to avoid picking a favorite, the AP reported, by using a mascot with unclear animal lineage.
The year ahead could be a rough one, regardless of which animal name you use, astrologers say. Chen Shuaifu, a respected feng shui master, told NBC News that people should be prepared for bleak economic prospects. The outlook for finding love and having babies is also bad, he said. Several interviewed by the AP predicted economic turbulence, transportation accidents and wind-whipped natural disasters. Clement Chan, a well-known feng shui master, predicts a lot of fire and accidents, though fewer plane crashes than in 2014. Things could be a bit better for women, however. "I think you'll see a lot of female world leaders — they'll achieve something great, actually," Chan told the AP
Holiday Travel, Spending Boost
Even if the financial future isn't bright, the holiday is seen as giving the economy and tourism a boost. China will see 2.8 billion trips during the Lunar New Year, about 60 times the number of Americans who report traveling 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving, according to government and AAA estimates cited by Bloomberg Business. Restaurant and retail spending during the holiday week, which many people have off, hit almost $100 billion in China last year, the outlet reported.
Getting a Lucky Start
January 1 isn't the only new year welcomed with fireworks. Firecrackers are also central to the Chinese New Year celebration. Families get together and celebrate with a reunion dinner, one of the year's most important meals, according to one major Chinese travel agency. Many typical foods for the feast have symbolic meaning. Eating both fish and dumplings, for example, is believed to bring wealth and fortune in the year ahead, the agency says. Tradition also reportedly dictates that doors should be open at midnight to let the old year out. The color red, seen as lucky, is often a decor staple for the holiday. Chen told NBC News that people can also improve their standing in the unlucky year by wearing black and blue or carrying sheep accessories.
Celebrating the Chinese New Year in the U.S.
The Lunar New Year is celebrated in countries across the globe, including the United States. San Francisco’s Chinese New Year parade takes place on Saturday, March 7 at 5:15 p.m. local time. In addition to the parade, celebrations include a Chinese New Year Flower Market, a Miss Chinatown USA pageant and a Chinese New Year 10K/5K Run/Walk. New York City will host its annual Lunar New Year parade and festival on Feb. 22. Chicago’s Chinese Lunar New Year Parade will also take place on Feb. 22, along with a host of other activities.
Holiday Freebies and Promotions: To mark the holiday, Panda Express, the nation’s largest Chinese restaurant group, is giving out red envelopes to its customers with coupons for either a free soda or a free order of Firecracker Chicken Breast. Godiva is selling limited-edition "Year of the Goat" gift boxes that combine its traditional Belgian chocolate with edible flowers and exotic root flavors. Chase Bank is providing traditional Chinese calendars and red envelopes for customers who want to give out their own gifts of money.