I love Chinese New Year. Even though I am not Chinese myself, I have an interest in Chinese customs and I like Chinese food. Especially mushroom fried noodles. There's something fun about the whole idea of creating a large amount of luck, driving away evil spirits each year and wishing great bagfuls of money on people.
Tips to make your year lucky:
1. Say Kung Hao Fat Choy ("gong hey fat choy") to your Chinese friends who speak Cantonese. Or Gong Xi Fa Cai ("gong shi fa chai") for those who speak Mandarin. This means something along the lines of "I hope this year you get lots of money/have a prosperous year". I think that's a nice thing to wish people. I haven't done this yet but I fear my pronunciation would be rather suspect (I only learned French, Italian and German at school!)
2. Clean everything!! Clean out the old luck and bring in the new. But be careful not to sweep or clean during New Years or you might clean some luck away.
3. Give out red envelopes with money in them to your family. The amount must be an even number (preferably having an eight in there somewhere!) When receiving an envelope, don't open your envelopes in the presence of the giver. This is said to be bad manners.
4. Wear/buy red clothes. My contribution to this is my incredibly awesome Redheads top. It's very red and therefore very lucky (see below).
5. Light firecrackers to scare away evil spirits. Firecrackers are illegal in most cases, so watching some fireworks might be the next best thing. I may have to settle for party poppers and some sparklers.
6. Display citrus fruits around the house. These are especially lucky and are thought to bring good health for the coming year.
7. Open all your doors and windows and keep the lights on. This is said to bring in the new luck of the new year and let go of last year's luck.
8. Eat long noodles for a long life!!
This year is the year of the Water Dragon. The Water Dragon is said to be ambitious, but the water element tempers the arrogance and pushiness usually associated with the year of the Dragon.
I hope this year is joyful and prosperous for all of you!!