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- The Lunar New Year, an auspicious time for many people, takes place on February 12.
- From candy to clothing and toys to books, here are 15 gift recommendations you can get to celebrate the occasion.
- Check out all of our gift guides for more ideas.
The Lunar New Year falls on February 12, 2021. Traditionally celebrated with extended family reunions and dinners, this year will be a bit different and subdued as fewer people will be gathering due to safety measures and travel restrictions around the world. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t take part in some of the traditions, whether you’re on your own or with your immediate family.
Gifting revolves around the giving of red envelopes (“hong bao” or “lai see”), usually from adults to children. These packets signify the bestowing of good fortune — for kids, it’s the money inside that gets them excited. Otherwise, rather than lavish objects, people usually gift smaller meaningful items, such as oranges and candy.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself, whether it’s decorating your home to mark the event, cooking a nice meal, or buying new clothes. If you really want to get traditional, make sure you observe the superstitions, such as no cleaning on the first day of the New Year, giving cut flowers, wearing all white or black, and others.
While our gift recommendations skew toward Chinese New Year traditions, which is often associated with Lunar New Year, the occasion is also celebrated by Koreans (Seollal), Vietnamese (Tet), Tibetans (Losar), Mongolians (Tsagaan Sar), and others. However, they all share similar values and anybody can take part. Note that many people observe the event for two weeks, so you have plenty of time to celebrate.
15 Lunar New Year gift ideas, from food and drink to fashion and toys
Connie Chen contributed to this story.
A box of sweet oranges makes the best gift
Oranges are considered symbols of good luck and are often given as gifts during Chinese New Year. Tangerines, mandarins, and most other fruits also make great gifts.
Cara Cara Oranges, at Harry and David, $25-$35
A LEGO set for toddlers that's both fun and educational
A LEGO set that teaches your youngsters about the significance of Chinese New Year.
LEGO Duplo Happy Childhood Moments, at LEGO, $99
For a sweet new year
Chocolates and cookies are often given during the Lunar New Year, and nobody should ever turn down sweets from La Maison du Chocolat.
Year of the Ox Gift Box and Ox New Year Macarons, at La Maison du Chocolat, $39-$66
A cute plush ox toy for your dog
The Lunar New Year, which marks the start of a new moon, is also tied to the Chinese Zodiac, a calendar based on 12 animals. This year, it’s the Year of the Ox, which includes other bovine. The ox symbolizes a year of hard work and positivity. While 2021 isn’t the year of the dog, your pet can still get in on the fun with this toy.
Year of the Ox Dog Plush Toy, at Jeffers, $6
Find out why it's called the Year of the Ox
Learn about the Chinese Zodiac and the meaning behind the Year of the Ox and other animals.
“The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes: 40th Anniversary Edition,” at Barnes and Noble, $25
Serve your guests a warm cup of tea
Tea-drinking is a revered tradition in Asia, and you’ll find oolong tea served during the New Year.
Ten Ren King’s Green Ginseng Oolong Loose Tea Leaves, at Amazon, $36
Eat plenty of dumplings for prosperity and noodles for longevity
Dumplings (jiaoxi in Mandarin Chinese) are eaten during Chinese New Year because they symbolize wealth (they’re reminiscent of gold ingots used in imperial China). Skip the frozen stuff and opt for some homemade ones from some of the best dumpling restaurants in the country. And while you’re at it, pair them with some noodles, which represent a long life ahead.
Dumplings and noodles via Goldbelly
Festive dinnerware set
Food is a big part of celebrations, so use some special dinnerware for the occasion.
Lunar New Year Salad Plates, at Williams-Sonoma, $60 for set of four
Lunar Zodiac Serving Bowl, at Williams-Sonoma, $70
Show off a new look for the new year
The Lunar New Year is also a time to sport new clothing. Make an extra statement with these jackets.
Tiro 21 LNY Warm Jacket, at Adidas, $70
LNY Track Jacket, at Adidas, $90
Special-edition Scotch whisky to toast the new year
Alcohol is symbolic in that it represents good health and longevity. Although not Asian in origin, this Johnnie Walker premium Scotch blend is made even more special for the New Year. If you can’t get hold of the Year of the Ox edition, the regular Blue Label will still suffice. As always, please drink responsibly.
Johnnie Walker Blue Label Year of the Ox Limited Edition, at Flaviar, $287
Add a lucky plant to your home
Even if you aren’t planning a celebration you can still partake in some low-key traditions, like growing a Chinese money plant, also known as pilea peperomioides.
Money plant, at The Sill, $22
Cook an authentic Chinese meal
Chinese families will cook big meals at home to celebrate. Make a few authentic dishes using recipes from one of the leading Western authorities on Chinese cuisine.
“Every Grain of Rice” by Fuchsia Dunlop, at Amazon, $26.75
Wear something red
Red is a predominant color in the Lunar New Year, from decorations to the clothes people wear.
Cozy Fleece Boyfriend Hoodie in red, at Aritzia, $80
Intrepid Long-Sleeve Polo in red, at Mark Weldon, $88
A whimsical carry-all
This iconic Coach bag puts a fun spin on the Year of the Ox by combining it with a beloved nursery rhyme.
Lunar New Year Field Tote In Signature Canvas With Ox, at Coach, $495
When you can't choose just one New Year candy
You’ll often see trays of candy set out during Chinese New Year celebrations. It’s a hit with kids, naturally.
Lunar New Year Three Candy Cube Bundle, at Sugarfina, $20
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