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The Asian New Year is rooted in Chinese tradition. Chinese New Year is the most important of the Chinese holidays. It is sometimes called the Lunar New Year. It begins on the first day of the first lunar month in the Chinese calendar and ends on the 15th, known as Lantern Festival. Chinese New Year has influenced the New Year celebrations of its neighbors, such as Japan, Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines. The purpose of these celebrations is to convey peace and happiness to family members and friends.
The first day is celebrated with a lion dance to the welcome the gods of the heavens and earth. People often wear red clothes because it is believed that red will scare away evil spirits and bad fortune. Red envelopes or packets are passed out during the Chinese New Year's celebrations. It is common for adults to give these packets, which contain money, to children.
The last day is celebrated as the Lantern Festival. Candles are lit outside houses as a way to guide wayward spirits home. Families in China walk the street carrying lighted lanterns. In 2009, the Chinese New Year began on January 26th and is known as the Year of the Ox. The Ox is one of the 12-year cycles of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. The Ox is considered the sign of prosperity through fortitude and hard work.
Dim sum (literally meaning "touch the heart") is the name for a Chinese cuisine which involves a wide range of light dishes served alongside Chinese tea. It is usually served in the mornings until noon time at Chinese restaurants and at specialty dim sum eateries where typical dishes are available throughout the day. Dishes come in small portions and may include meat, seafood, and vegetables, as well as desserts and fruit. The items are usually served in a small steamer basket or on a small plate. Chinese families typically like to gather at Chinese restaurants for dim sum on special occasions such as Mother's Day or Chinese New Year.
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