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4 Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year

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Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Ling Ling, all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

4 Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year with Families

4 Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year starts on February 12th this year. If you have never celebrated this holiday before, it’s a great opportunity to introduce your family to a different culture and learn more about the traditions of celebrating the new year in China & other Asian countries. It is also called the Spring Festival in China, as the time period is typically the end of the coldest time of year and spring is on the horizon. Other Asian countries celebrate this New Year time period as well & call it the Lunar New Year (based on the lunar calendar).

Our family has spent the last few years learning more & more about the Chinese New Year as we have hosted Chinese students during the New Year celebration time. Chinese New Year is typically a vacation time for students & families in China, so this is a popular time for students to travel to the United States for exchange student programs (as well as the summertime).  It has been so educational & fun for our family to host students from China & we have loved having them share about their culture with us. {If you ever get the opportunity to host students from a country outside of the US, I highly recommend it – such an amazing experience all around for everyone involved to learn about each other’s cultures}

I had the opportunity last week to attend a Chinese New Year event sponsored by Ling Ling & I learned so much more about the traditions behind the food that is such a big part of Chinese New Year celebrations, as well as some easy yet delicious recipes to share with all of you from Chef Katie Chin, an Asian food expert & author of 4 Asian cookbooks.

It is really important to my husband and I that we are always looking for ways to broaden the perspectives of our children & show them how beautiful & unique different cultures, customs & traditions can be, so we are always looking for new ways to introduce them to experiences from other cultures. We are working to incorporate more & more traditions from Chinese New Year into our family, so I wanted to share some of these with you as ways you can celebrate Chinese New Year with your family, too, to understand and learn more about this unique & exciting New Year celebration time.

Chinese New Year Crafts

Kids learn best by action and hands-on activities, so crafts are a great way to introduce some of the Chinese New Year customs & traditions into your family. The crafts can vary by age, but regardless of age, this can be an activity that your whole family can do together maybe after you have eaten a traditional Chinese New Year meal.

Here are a few simple craft ideas for different ages:

Cherry Blossom Painting:

Chef Katie Chin showed us how simple this painting is to create with just paint, paper & recycled plastic bottles!

Making Cherry Blossom Paintings

Materials:

  • Art Paper
  • Paint (black & several shades of pink)
  • Paint brushes
  • Recycled plastic soda bottles (different sizes with distinct, rounded bottoms to form petal shape) – the 20 oz size works great for this project

Instructions:

  1. Use the paintbrush to paint the branches of your cherry blossom with black paint
  2. Then dip your plastic bottle into the pink paint & then press down on your paper for a “flower blossom”
  3. Repeat this process over all the branches adding pink “blossoms” to each of the branches. You can use several different shades of pink for variety & depth.

Cherry Blossom Painting with Chef Katie Chin

More Craft Ideas:

Cherry Blossom Tissue Paper Art:

Chinese New Year Cherry Blossom Craft with Tissue Paper

This craft is so simple – all you need is art paper (or cardstock/construction paper), a marker, glue & pink tissue paper. Draw your branches for your tree on the paper. Tear off little pieces of pink tissue paper to make the “cherry blossoms” & place in random spots along the branches for a colorful picture. This is a craft project from my daughter’s Mandarin Culture class she is taking right now.

Chinese Paper Cutting

Doing Chinese Crafts at Spring Festival

This is an activity we tried at a Chinese Spring Festival event last year with our Exchange students. It’s definitely an activity for older kids & teens as it does involve very fine, detailed paper cutting. Find a pattern you like on Pinterest & print it off. Cut it out & then trace it onto origami paper. You will then use very sharp scissors or an Exacto knife (only for kids old enough to use this carefully) to cut out the design from the origami paper. These intricate paper designs can be used to decorate your house for Chinese New Year.

Chinese Paper Cutting Crafts

Attend a Chinese New Year Celebration

 

Chinese Spring Festival in Tacoma

One of the best ways to soak up the traditions & customs from a different culture is to attend a cultural celebration or festival. Where ever you live, look up Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year celebrations and you are sure to find several celebrations in your area.  We have attended several celebrations the last few years, including this Spring Festival event last year held in Tacoma.

Chinese Festival with Chinese Students

We enjoyed participating in Chinese New Year crafts (like the paper crafting above) & playing customary Chinese games, as well as sampling different foods, candies & teas they featured. Our favorite part of the celebration was the presentations by the Exchange Students, showcasing their many talents with singing, dancing, playing traditional Chinese instruments & more. Seeing the beautiful & artistic expressions of their culture thru song & dance was mesmerizing, especially seeing the traditional dress with all of the bright colors & beautiful fabrics.

For those of you who are in the Northwest, make sure to check out our free & frugal family event list which will feature a number of Chinese/Lunar New Year events & festivals each week over the next few weeks. It will be an experience you won’t forget if you attend a celebration with your family!

Visit Chinatown or an Asian Cultural Museum

 

If you live near a city, make sure to schedule a visit to your local Chinatown, even better if you can do this during the Chinese New Year celebration time. We love visiting the local Seattle Chinatown as well as the Chinatown in British Columbia (it’s the oldest Chinatown in Canada) as you will find authentic restaurants, shops with so many fun treasures, and so much more.

Wing Luke Asian Museum Kids Area

Another way to soak in more information about Chinese New Year is to visit an Asian history museum, if possible. Here in the Seattle area, we have both the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience as well as the Asian Art Museum. The Wing Luke museum is filled with both art, history, and a fun kids area where children can participate in some origami crafts, dress up in traditional costumes & more.  The museum offers both historical tours (well worth the tour to learn about the history of Asian Americans in the area) as well as food tours (an excellent way to learn more about the culture from the guides as they bring you thru Chinatown to experience the variety of foods).

For those of you who are local, after your visit the Wing Luke museum in Seattle, head next door to the Harbor City restaurant for a very authentic, Dim Sum experience. Whenever we visit a new Chinatown district, we research reviews ahead of time to find the most authentic restaurants to try the different varieties of food.

Cook a Chinese New Year Feast

One of the easiest ways to start introducing a new culture to your family is to cook up some traditional foods for your Chinese New Year celebration. I had the opportunity to learn about the customs & traditions of Chinese New Year from Chef Katie Chin at an event last week. Not only did she share some cooking tips & tricks that I was excited to learn, but she also taught us about the important of the foods you choose for your Chinese New Year celebrations. The foods you choose for your meals is very important in Chinese culture.

Here are some of the foods that are typically chosen for Chinese New Year celebrations:

Whole Fish – symbol of abundance

Whole Chicken – represents unity & family togetherness

Noodles – represents longevity & the hope for a long life. Keep the noodles long & uncut.

Dumplings & potstickers – represent wealth & good fortune (they are shaped like ingots, blocks of gold used as ancient Chinese currency)

I love knowing the customs & traditions behind the dishes that you would serve for your celebration. So much thought & preparation goes into preparing your menu & following the traditions.  And one of my personal favorites from this list are the dumplings & potstickers! So, I was excited that Chef Katie Chin taught us some delicious side dishes to prepare with Ling Ling potstickers.

Ling Ling Potstickers

Photo Credit: Influence Central

We love to find foods that are quick & easy to make, especially for those evenings on the go. Ling Ling Potstickers fit this criteria perfectly, while still being a healthy option for our family, which is so important.  Our evenings can be so rushed with activities, so we love to have on hand simple yet healthy options for quick meals, so these Ling Ling potstickers are a frequent option we choose because they are so tasty & fast to make. They have 3 different varieties, too, with chicken & vegetable, vegetable, & pork & vegetable potstickers. {We also love the mini spring rolls, too – so good!} You can find all of the Ling Ling varieties in the freezer section of your grocery store.

Ling Ling Potstickers are an easy & delicious dinner idea for Chinese New Year celebrations

I love that Ling Ling uses fresh sourced veggies & proteins that are high quality & clean ingredients, so I can feel confident serving them to my girls as healthy options. They are so quick to prepare for our dinners when several of us are going different directions, yet we want to still sit down together as a family for a quick meal. I am also all about convenience & quality when we have get-togethers at our house, so I love fast & healthy options like the Ling Ling potstickers. It’s the fastest way to feed a crowd when you grab a big bag of potstickers, which comes with their signature dipping sauce. So, they are the perfect dinner idea to pair with some veggies for a Chinese New Year celebration.

If you are looking for some unique recipes to try with your potsticker dishes for Chinese New Year, make sure to try these two recipes out – Spicy Garlic Asian Eggplant & Chinese Long Beans with Cashews. These recipes are courtesy of Chef Katie Chin & I must tell you – I was so surprised by how tasty they were. I’ll admit I am not normally an eggplant fan, so I was hesitant to try the eggplant dish we made. However, the eggplant recipe is so flavorful & so different from what you’d expect that I was very pleasantly surprised.

I also must tell you that one of the most exciting aspects to this evening of cooking for me was learning all of Katie’s tips & tricks & she taught us the secret to the perfect crunchy green beans! Before you ever put the green beans in the skillet, try the blanching technique. This is where you first boil the beans in water for just 2 minutes and then immediately place them in an ice water bath. Once they have cooled, then you will continue with cooking on the skillet. I have never tried this technique & always struggled with my green beans being a bit too chewy so I am thrilled to have this new technique to use at home. I am all about having easier ways to cook & make healthy meals for my family, so love learning cooking techniques like this in action.

Chinese Long Beans with Cashews:

This recipe is amazing – even if you are not a big fan of green beans, I recommend you try this recipe! It was very easy to prepare and using the blanching technique, it made the green beans so crispy with that amazing flavor in the sauce. I seriously am going to use this recipe all.the.time! It’s just that good! All of us could not stop eating these green beans – they are so flavorful for a wonderful complement to any dish. Since they are so easy to make, you can throw these together while cooking up the Ling Ling potstickers for an easy weeknight meal for your family.

Making of the Chinese Long Beans Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of Chinese long beans, trimmed & cut into 2 in pieces
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp Hoisin Sauce
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 oz roasted cashews

Directions:

Chinese Long Beans with Cashews

 

  1. Cook the long beans in boiling water until tender crisp, about 2 minutes.
  2. Transfer the beans with a slotted spoon to an ice bath until cool. Drain. Set aside
  3. Heat an oil wok or skillet over medium high heat. Add the green beans and stir fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic, Hoisin sauce & oyster sauce & stir fry for 30 seconds
  5. Garnish with roasted cashews. Dish & serve immediately with hot steaming rice.

Note: You may substitute long beans with green beans but blanch them for 5 minutes instead of 2 minutes (boiling water then ice cold water bath)

Spicy Garlic Asian Eggplant:

I will be the first to admit that I am not a big fan of eggplant, so I was unsure if I would like the dish we were preparing. However, I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this eggplant dish & I will definitely be making it again & hopefully convincing my non-eggplant loving family how good eggplant can be! The flavorful sauce is what really made this dish as it was a hint of both sweet & spicy (you can add more spice with more chili peppers, we kept it more mild based on our personal likes).

Spicy Garlic Asian Eggplant Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4 Asian eggplants (cut in 1/2 lengthwise, then diagonally into 1/2 in. slices)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dark sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 hot red chili peppers (seeded & thinly sliced), optional
  • 2 tbsp water

Directions:

Soaking Asian Eggplant for Spicy Garlic Eggplant Recipe

 

  1. Cover the eggplant with water in a bowl, add the salt & stir to dissolve the salt. Soak the eggplant for 5 minutes then drain well. {This is to take out the bitterness of the eggplant}
  2. In a small bowl, combine the oyster sauce, sugar & sesame oil. Set aside
  3. Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over medium high heat. Add the garlic, chili peppers, and reserved eggplant and stir for 2 minutes.
  4. Add 2 tbsp water & continue stir-frying for 2 more minutes.
  5. Add the oyster sauce mixture & stir well to mix.
  6. Dish out and serve immediately with hot steaming rice.

Note: You can find Asian eggplant at many Asian markets. You can also substitute regular eggplant, just cut it lengthwise into 4-6 strips before slicing.

Making Spicy Garlic Asian Eggplant with Ling Ling

What are your favorite ways to celebrate Chinese New Year in your family? We’d love to hear your traditions and favorite foods!

Find the printable recipes here:

Print
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Chinese Long Beans with Cashews

Chinese Long Beans with Cashews


  • Author: Jen

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 lb of Chinese long beans, trimmed & cut into 2 in pieces
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp Hoisin Sauce
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 oz roasted cashews

Instructions

  1. Cook the long beans in boiling water until tender crisp, about 2 minutes.
  2. Transfer the beans with a slotted spoon to an ice bath until cool. Drain. Set aside
  3. Heat an oil wok or skillet over medium high heat. Add the green beans and stir fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic, Hoisin sauce & oyster sauce & stir fry for 30 seconds
  5. Garnish with roasted cashews. Dish & serve immediately with hot steaming rice.
Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Spicy Garlic Asian Eggplant Recipe

Spicy Garlic Asian Eggplant


  • Author: Jen

Ingredients

Scale
  • 4 Asian eggplants (cut in 1/2 lengthwise, then diagonally into 1/2 in. slices)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dark sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 hot red chili peppers (seeded & thinly sliced), optional
  • 2 tbsp water

Instructions

  1. Cover the eggplant with water in a bowl, add the salt & stir to dissolve the salt. Soak the eggplant for 5 minutes then drain well. {This is to take out the bitterness of the eggplant}
  2. In a small bowl, combine the oyster sauce, sugar & sesame oil. Set aside
  3. Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over medium high heat. Add the garlic, chili peppers, and reserved eggplant and stir for 2 minutes.
  4. Add 2 tbsp water & continue stir-frying for 2 more minutes.
  5. Add the oyster sauce mixture & stir well to mix.
  6. Dish out and serve immediately with hot steaming rice.

One Comment

  1. Great pictures! Didn’t know you went! Where was it held? I know 3 Chinese women who are gong to China to celebrate the New Year. Also, this is celebrated by Koreans & Vietnamese.

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