Ways for Families to Celebrate the Chinese New Year in 2021, the Year of the Ox

My kids love learning about new cultures, foods, and ways to celebrate! Chinese New Year is a great opportunity to celebrate a colorful Chinese tradition. Chinese New Year is also known as Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, and it’s one of China’s biggest celebrations. The Chinese New Year’s Day is February 12, 2021. We’ve found some exciting ways to help you ring in the Year of the Ox as a family, whether you regularly celebrate or you are exploring this holiday for the first time.

Chinese New Year celebration for kids at Navy Pier in Chicago
Photo courtesy of Navy Pier

2021 Chinese New Year Celebrations in Chicagoland

Jewel Osco Chinese New Year (Virtual)
February 4 & 10, 2021 | 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Join via Zoom, where chefs from Ying Kitchen will show you how to prepare delicious cuisine and drink recipe for the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday, teach you about the history, and more. Requires advanced registration.

Celebrations for Chinese New Year (Virtual)
February 4, 2021 | 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Mount Prospect Public Library invites everyone to understand the Chinese New Year with celebratory activities you can do in your home. This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

2021 Virtual Lunar New Year Festival (Virtual)
February 11 – 14, 2021 | Times vary
Chinese Community Center of Houston’s first-ever 2021 Virtual Lunar New Year Festival! Free to the public. Registration is required for virtual links. Each day there is a different virtual celebration and cultural experience, such as cooking, dancing, and music.

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Big Bowl Chicago Chinese New Year Specials
February 11 – 14, 2021
Big Bowl Schaumburg (847) 517-8881
Big Bowl Lincolnshire (847) 808-8880
Big Bowl Chicago (312) 951-1888
In celebration of the Chinese New Year, guests can enjoy specials including traditional Moo Shu Pork, Long Life Noodles with Shanghai Beef to symbolize longevity, Black Pepper Sea Scallops, and Banana Cheesecake to symbolize bringing a sweet life to the New Year. 

DePaul 2021 Chinese New Year Gala (Virtual)
February 12, 2021 | 12:00 pm
DePaul students put on this family-friendly event with Lunar New Year performances. Chinese Lunar New Year Virtual Gala video is free. The video will be released on DePaul’s Chinese Studies Facebook page.

Fashion Outlets of Chicago (Rosemont) – Lunar New Year
February 12 – 28, 2021
Ring in the Lunar New Year with special Red Envelope offers from participating retailers listed on their website.

Lunar New Year Virtual Celebration (Virtual)
February 13, 2021 | 9:00 am
Celebrate the Lunar New Year online with the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Chinese Cultural Institute, and the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the United States of America. Free event, but registration is required for the links.

2021 Chinese New Year Celebration (Virtual) 
February 13, 2021 | 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Join online to celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Ox in this free event, open to the public, but registration is required for the link.

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Chinese-American Museum of Chicago – Chinese New Year Celebration (Virtual)
February 17, 2021 | 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
This year’s event will take place virtually on YouTube. Performances include lion dancing, musical performances, calligraphy, storytelling, and more. 

Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade
February 21, 2021 | 1:00 pm
This parade winds through Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood with bands, floats, and lion dances. Free. They also have the 2020 parade video on their website for the public to view at home.

Chinese New Year Customs to Share with Your Family

Chinese New Year activities include:

  • Putting up decorations. Red is the main color of the festival. Decorate your house with lanterns, use calligraphy, poetry, and plants to express hopes for happiness and prosperity. 
  • Eating reunion dinner with family. What holiday would be complete without a feast? The reunion dinner is an important custom for the family to be together. The reunion dinner is known as the most important family dinner of the year. Check out these ideas for food and drinks!
  • Firecrackers and fireworks. Billions of fireworks go up in China at 12am Chinese New Year, the most anywhere at any time of year. The fireworks have been cancelled for 2021, but thanks to the internet, we can stream fireworks from previous years instead!
  • Giving red envelopes and other gifts.  The red envelope gifts are believed to bring good luck, because they are red. Instead of the traditional money gift, have your family write a New Year’s message to each other in red envelopes.
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Is there a Chinese New Year celebration we may have missed? Please share in the comments! If you’re on the lookout for more fun things to do with your family, we’ve got you covered at Kidlist.

About the Author

Nicole Majewski
Nicole and her family live in Bloomingdale. She is a former teacher and now stay at home mom of three adorable kids. Her family loves to be outside, exploring nature and getting dirty. In the winter months, you will find them at the local library or an indoor play place.

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