Spruce up and dec­o­rate your home for Chi­nese New Year

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Homespot - Broward East - - REAL ESTATE Q&A LIVING G SPACES - By Kathryn We­ber

Tri­bune Con­tent Agency Each year,

af­ter the Jan. 1 Western, or so­lar New Year, the Chi­nese cel­e­brate the lu­nar New Year. This ob­ser­vance can take place any time from mid-Jan­uary to mid-Fe­bru­ary, depend­ing on the ar­rival of a new moon.

Many Amer­i­can cities now host elab­o­rate Chi­nese New Year cel­e­bra­tions, but you can ob­serve Chi­nese New Year at home by adopt­ing some of the cus­toms and rit­u­als thought to bring luck and good for­tune. At the very least, all the bright red dec­o­ra­tions and pretty flow­ers will perk up a dull win­ter day.

Year of the Horse

The Year of the Horse be­gan on Fri­day, Jan. 31, and is ob­served for the sub­se­quent two weeks, or un­til the full moon. In China, this is the ma­jor an­nual hol­i­day. The last day of Chi­nese New Year is cel­e­brated for love. In­ter­est­ingly, this day falls on St. Valen­tine’s Day in the West this year. Clean and clear One of the most im­por­tant rit­u­als of Chi­nese New Year is to thor­oughly clean the house. All rooms are scrubbed from top to bot­tom. The kitchen, in par­tic­u­lar, gets a thor­ough clean­ing. The kitchen is thought to be a source of wealth, so there’s em­pha­sis on re­mov­ing old, stale, or small bits of stored food in the pantry and re­frig­er­a­tor.

A rice urn is of­ten dis­played on a counter in Asian homes and is never al­lowed to go empty, as this sym­bol­izes los­ing wealth. To em­pha­size the sym­bol­ism of wealth and abun­dance, at this time of year all con­tain­ers in the pantry are re­filled and pack­ages of food that have gone un­eaten are dis­carded. Chipped plates are also con­sid­ered un­lucky and if new dish­ware is re­quired, it is pur­chased now. Aus­pi­cious dis­plays Once the house has been thor­oughly cleaned, it’s dec­o­rated to wel­come the New Year. Many Chi­nese adorn their doors with bright red ban­ners (Pearl­river.com). These ban­ners can in­clude im­ages of a boy and a girl, fierce war­riors for pro­tec­tion, or wishes for wealth or good for­tune. It’s par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant that the front door be dec­o­rated and that the en­try­way look invit­ing.

Home­own­ers place additional dis­plays around the house in the be­lief that hav­ing these items au­gurs good for­tune. Bulb plants, such as yel­low daf­fodils, that rep­re­sent hid­den wealth and boun­ti­ful gold, are pop­u­lar.

Peach or pussy wil­low branches may be placed in vases to sym­bol­ize spring­time, re­gen­er­a­tion and growth. Or­ange, lime or man­darin trees rep­re­sent wealth and pros­per­ity. Large bowls of fruit and nuts are also dis­played. Or­anges, rep­re­sent­ing health and longevity, as well as gold items, are placed in the liv­ing room or on the din­ing room ta­ble.

Tucked into the bowls of sweets and treats are red en­velopes, called hong bao, filled with money to be handed out to guests and chil­dren. On the first day of Chi­nese New Year, home­own­ers roll or­anges in the front door to rep­re­sent wealth flow­ing into the house. This makes for a fun ac­tiv­ity for the kids, and who knows, maybe bring a more pros­per­ous year.

For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact Kathryn We­ber through her Web site, www.red­lo­tuslet­ter. com.

(c) 2013 Kathryn We­ber. Dis­trib­uted by Tri­buneCon­tent Agency, LLC.

Red en­velopes filled with money, called hong bao, are given to guests and chil­dren to mark the Chi­nese New Year.

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