Chinese New Year falls on Friday, January 31 in 2014 and, while the weather is chillier this time of year, there are plenty of ways to celebrate the festive occasion. The centuries old tradition and was originally held to honor ancestors and deities. Today, it is celebrated in many places around the world including China, Thailand and Singapore as well as in the Chinatowns in major cities across the globe.

While there are many retailers, restaurants and other shops recognizing the major Chinese holiday, you can do some celebrating of your own at home. Here are some ideas:

Clean Your House!

It is believed that, before the New Year arrives, you should do a very thorough cleaning in your home with the intent of cleaning and sweeping away any bad luck or energy that may have built up over the past year.  This is a great time to declutter and get rid of things that you no longer want or use, including items that bring back unpleasant memories.

Stop Cleaning Your House!

Hopefully, you did a good job cleaning up before the New Year because it is customary to skip sweeping during those first few days since you could risk sweeping away any of the fresh good luck you just received.

Paint the Town Red

Okay, maybe not the town but you should definitely decorate your house with the color red. Traditionally, doors and even window panes are often painted in the bright color but you could hang papercuts and drapery to commemorate the New Year.

Remember the Kitchen God

It is customary to have a poster of the Kitchen God in the kitchen and offer up a sacrifice to him so that, when he returns to heaven, he will only have good things to say about your family! A common treat is Nian Gao, also known as New Year Sticky Cake.

Have a Family Meal

When you’re preparing the food for the Kitchen God, make some extra goodies for your family. It is traditional for families to gather together and make Chinese dumplings (Jiaozi). Some people hide a coin in one of the dumplings for one lucky person to find. It is also common to hand out oranges and tangerines as they symbolize wealth and good fortune.

Money Packets

Another fun tradition is to give children leisee, which are red packets adorned with gold symbols. Placed on their pillows, the envelopes are filled with “lucky money.”

Whether you check for local events or parades in your area or plan a family night at home, Chinese New Year can be yet another way to leave the past behind and focus on a more positive, happier future.

photo credit: LH_Wong via photopin cc