How to celebrate Chinese New Year, even if you’re a total noob

Happy Chinese New Year, everyone! This year, 2018, is the “Year of the Dog” and today, February 16th, marks the very first day of the festivities following the Lunar calendar, a system based on complete cycles of the moon.

The holiday is a 15-day long family event that’s not only observed in China, but also in Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore, and plenty of other Asian countries. Many Asian Americans also adhere to the traditions stateside, so regardless of your heritage, there are a number of ways people all over the world can participate in the one-of-a-kind celebration.

Before you start making plans, you should probably know how to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

First, you need to ready your appetite.

Because one of the biggest ways to honor the New Year is with a giant, family-style reunion meal. Roast pork and winter melon soup are common appetizers, and steamed whole fish along with stir-fried beef are standard main courses that are served with braised noodles and fried rice. There’s also a lucky meaning behind most of the traditional dishes, which is why they’re always part of the table.

Money is another huge component, but it’s not just about handing someone a pile of cash.

Older family members tend to give younger relatives money in beautifully designed red envelopes; they’re meant to share blessings and spread happiness.

Enormous fireworks, bright decorations like red lanterns, and colorful dragon dances with acrobats are a few other things to look out for to get in on the action.

Though you’ll most likely have to travel to major cities like Hong Kong and Shanghai to witness the best displays, at least they all sound fun to watch and seem to be worth the trip. For those who can’t make it overseas, we recommend just living vicariously through the following celebrities who are going all out for the New Year.

If all else fails, book a trip to Disneyland’s festive exhibit like the three adorable on-screen brothers from Fresh Off the Boat did and celebrate that way.

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