Lunar New Year will take place on Tuesday February 1, ushering in the Year of the Tiger according to the Chinese Zodiac.

For those who celebrate Lunar New Year, or wish to, the holiday is focused on a number of key things: red envelopes, new clothes, food, and family.

There are plenty of traditions associated with the occasion, but, just like Christmas, it is very much wrapped up in spending time with your family while enjoying delicious food.

But, many of us are unfortunately unable to spend the holiday with our family, which can be difficult.

In the last two years, so many people have been separated from their families due to Covid. For anyone from Hong Kong, flights have once again been banned between the UK and the former British colony, preventing visits home.

For others, it is a matter of financial expense – flying home to Asia can cost hundreds, or if your Asian family live in the UK, or nearby enough to fly without breaking the bank, it may be that you can’t get the time off work as Lunar New Year is not recognised as a holiday here.

Additionally, some people may be estranged from their families, and are therefore cut off from the cultural traditions that come with Lunar New Year, but that doesn’t mean they want to observe it any less. It is still a part of them, no matter what.

So, what can you do to celebrate Lunar New Year without those family traditions?

Order loads of Chinese food

Even though every one knows that Chinese food from a takeaway in the UK won’t compare to the food we can get back in our home countries, or from our parents for Lunar New Year dinner, if you can find the right takeaway, it’s still very delicious.

So, why not splurge on a bunch of food from the local Chinese and watch a great movie in bed to ring in Lunar New year?

It’s a great way to celebrate the New Year and feel a little bit closer to home even when you can’t be there.

Learn to cook some traditional dishes

We might not be able to cook like our grandmothers, who simply use vibes instead of a recipe to concoct amazing dishes, but there are plenty of tips and tricks out there that will help you to learn how to cook a traditional dish.

Spending some time cooking those dishes can be a cathartic and fun way to celebrate Lunar New Year, and afterwards you get to enjoy the fruits of your labours.

If you are in contact with your family, and the time difference isn’t too bad, you could even call your mum and have her on speaker phone advising you as you experiment with the different spices.

Head to Chinatown to partake in the celebrations

Most places in the world have some version of a Chinatown due to globalisation and mass migration movements in the past 200 years.

If you’re in London or New York, where Chinatown covers quite a few places rather than a street, you can bet that there will be something on to help you ring in the Lunar New Year.

Many cities will have lion dances and celebrations where you can be around people in the same situation as you – find your people and enjoy Lunar New Year together even if you can’t be with your family.

Teach your friends your traditions

There’s a lot to be said about chosen families and sharing your traditions with each other.

People who are unable to be with their families or estranged for whatever reason can instead find a few close friends to celebrate Lunar New Year with.

Even if those friends are not Asian and do not celebrate Lunar New Year, you can teach them the intricacies of the holiday, the folk story it stems from, and show them how you like to celebrate it so that they can do so with you.

Host a Lunar New Year party

Have a party! Get dressed up in red, the quintessential Lunar New Year colour, have some drinks, share red envelopes filled with chocolate coins, and have a good time.

A party will be a great distraction to the fact you can’t have a traditional family dinner as you’ll be surrounded by good friends and company.

Incorporating aspects of Lunar New Year into the traditional house party will make you feel like you’re still representing your culture while having fun with how you celebrate it – making new traditions is a great way to deal with family estrangement and distance.

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