Culture / Entertainment

Your Guide to Chinese New Year 2019 — Red Envelopes, Great Events and The Year of the Pig

How to Celebrate With Style in Dallas

BY // 02.01.19

As the PaperCity resident expert on all things Chinese, I thought I would do a little primer on Chinese New Year and some ways to celebrate this year.

Let me first clarify “expert.” I didn’t grow up in China, but rather my foundation was laid in the south (Tallahassee, Florida to be exact). I don’t speak Chinese, however, I understand most of the language and during my formative years created a language I affectionately call “Chin-glish” (half Chinese, half English) with my grandmother. So, given that the other last names in the PaperCity Dallas offices are Stack, Kenney, Wilson and mine is Fong, I guess I can call myself the expert.

Chinese New Year, commonly known as Lunar New Year, is a festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar. The first day of Chinese New Year begins on the new moon that appears between January 21 and February 20. In 2019, the first day of the Lunar New Year will be this Tuesday, February 5th. It will be the Year of the Pig.

The Chinese Zodiac is based on a 12-year cycle with each year in that cycle relating to an animal sign. These signs are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Pigs are considered a symbol of wealth; their chubby faces and big ears are both signs of good fortune.

So, if you have a little one on the way, it sounds like they are in for good fortune. I personally am a dog. Take a moment and check out what you are.

If you are looking for some gifts for loved ones the holiday, might I suggest a red envelope. One of my earliest memories was receiving red envelopes from relatives on Chinese New Year. Inside was money — as a youngster, it was usually no more than $20. As I’ve gotten older it’s gone up slightly and yes, I still receive a little red envelope each year which I then put in my savings account (I was taught at a young age that it’s important to save).

If you feel that cash is crass, then might I suggest some blue and white porcelain or jade jewelry. Do you know anyone who can’t use another gorgeous vase or an adornment for their neck or ears? I was pleasantly surprised that Christie’s Auction House has an article with some great information on Chinese blue-and-white porcelains, so you might want to take a look before purchasing a gift.

If you are looking for things to do in celebration of Chinese New Year’s, the number one agenda item should be a great meal. Since I have a lot to say on the topic of Chinese food in Dallas/Fort Worth, I have written a follow-up piece to this one, so please click here to read it.

In addition to a great meal, you might want to pay a visit to the Crow Museum of Asian Art in downtown Dallas. There are some incredible exhibitions currently on view including “Immortal Landscapes: Jade from the Collection.” Drawn from the Crow’s collection of later-period Chinese jade objects, this exhibition focuses on carved jade representations of mountain landscapes and forms from nature. The Museum also has programming outside of its walls and will host the 20th annual Chinese New Year Festival at NorthPark Center.

This year will include a wealth of activities and festivities to help ring in the New Year, including dragon and lion dances, art making for all ages, and giveaways throughout the Center.

I know many of you might have seen the billboards or commercials for the spectacle known as Shen Yun. Unfortunately, it has already passed through Dallas/Fort Worth. With that in mind, save-the-date for 2020 as the company generally comes through the major Texas cities in early to mid-January.

Lastly, if you are like me and only have so much energy for exploring on your weekends (after a grueling work week), then I have some suggestions for your viewing pleasure. Perhaps get some Chinese takeout and watch Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love and/or Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor. Both are masterpieces if not solely for their cinematography and they generally make my personal Top 20 movie list.

Happy Year of the Pig!

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