Year Of The Pig, It's Chinese New Year!
“The journey not the arrival matters.” – T.S. Eliot
Happy Chinese New year! 2019 is year of the Pig and anyone born under this sign is believed to be a logical thinker as well as have the ability to be a fixer. And a real bonus - pigs are a symbol of wealth so people born under the Pig sign are believed to be wealthy. Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival because it marks the end of the coldest days (although it’s celebrated while it’s still winter). Chinese New Year isn’t a set date however; it follows the lunar calendar so dates range from January to February from year to year. This is a time in Chinese culture for praying to Chinese deities and warding off evil spirits. Meals (as in all meals during this festival) are filled with dumplings and special desserts that have significant meaning for those participating. This important holiday is the longest in Chinese culture as it lasts 15 days.
Now you may be wondering how you too can get in on the festivities. Of course a trip to China should be on your list during the next Chinese New Year celebration, however it’s never too late to plan something locally. One thing you can do if you live in an area with a high Chinese population is see what events are already planned in those neighborhoods that you can participate in. One thing my family likes to do is prepare our favorite Chinese foods at home as a form of celebration of an important holiday to so many in our community. We also talk about what the festival means to those who hold it dear as well as plan what we will do when we are in China (also known as our someday list). We use red as a theme in our decorations however what we NEVER do is dress up in traditional Chinese attire - that would be cultural appropriation which is both tacky and offensive. (You can appreciate other peoples cultures in a very genuine respectful manner without turning the people and cultures into caricatures.) And thats the true beauty of travel, you get to become immersed in foreign places and cultures and you get to experience the destination through the people and food. And who doesn’t love food? Which is probably why I participate at home with so many cultures through food. My family and friends look forward to these holidays that pull us together though food and drink. I get to introduce those I love to new cultures through food that leaves them wanting to experience more of what the culture has to offer. And that’s a good thing.
There are so many ways to explore China - by river cruise, by escorted tour and on your own. There is no right way, only what’s right for you. What’s right for you depends on how you like to travel and what you like to do. Where should you start your travels? Should you begin in Beijing? Shanghai? Xi’an? Or is Hong Kong for you? Not sure where to begin? It’s a lot to digest. But how do you eat an elephant? One bit at a time, of course! How do you plan your perfect trip to China? One step at a time. And what better time than now to start planning your Chinese adventure?