How to Celebrate the Chinese New Year in US and Canada

Written By Sally Forsyth


As an international student in the US or Canada, you are no doubt enjoying attending high school and experiencing a new culture, as well as making lots of new friends.  Yet there will be moments in the year when you may feel a little homesick, especially around the Chinese New Year.  There are two ways you can feel better. You can look for Chinese New Year celebrations in your area, and you can plan some Chinese New Year celebrations with your host family. This would be a fantastic way for you to share your cultural traditions with your host family, and to really connect with them by sharing something very personal to you.

Let's look at some of the Chinese New Year celebrations in different cities. The good news is that there are many places in the US and Canada that have Chinese New Year celebrations, which will give you a little taste of home!

San Francisco

Editorial credit: Jeff Whyte /

One of the largest Chinese New Year celebrations is in San Francisco, California. Every year, the city always offers an incredible parade, impressive fireworks, street fairs, and a flower market. The Chinese Flower market in San Francisco covers various city blocks with vendors selling flowers, fruit, and fruit trees where families come to buy fruit and flowers to decorate their home for the New Year. Visiting this market with all its familiar sights and smells would definitely make you feel right at home!

San Francisco is famous for the New Year parade which is filled with dragons, stilt walkers, colorful costumes, and lots of noise from the drums and fireworks! You also don't want to miss walking through the beautifully decorated Chinatown fair, tasting all kinds of amazing food, and also enjoying the acrobats and jugglers. This fair is attended by thousands of people and becomes especially lively at night.

 Boston and New York

Editorial credit: Elijah Lovkoff /

Going over to the East Coast, there are also amazing celebrations in both Boston and New York. Boston is home to the third largest Chinese community in the US and offers a special parade every year in Chinatown. You can check out all the amazing restaurants in the area as well. No doubt,  they will be offering special New Year delicacies,typical dishes, and sweets to remind you of home! Delicious!

New York City is also a great place to be during Chinese New Year. One of the oldest Chinese communities in the US and Canada is in New York City. Plus, you have all the ethnic communities who celebrate the New Year that live in the city like Koreans and Vietnamese. Every year there is a special firecracker ceremony in Chinatown with lots of different singing and dancing performances. There is also a totally amazing Chinatown Lunar New Year parade, which has over 5,000 participants showing their talents such as acrobats, magicians, and musicians. It is a vibrant, colorful event that finishes with an outdoor cultural festival with even more performances. If you are studying in either Boston or New York City area, there will be plenty to see and do during the Chinese New Year period.


Editorial credit : Shutterstock

If you live in Vancouver, Canada there are plenty of amazing celebrations for the Lunar New Year.

To celebrate the Year of the Pig, there will be an impressive coastal display of Chinese Lanterns at Jack Poole Plaza during the entire New Year period. Designed by different Indian artists, as well as guest artists from different countries in Asia, this attraction is a must- see.

There will be a special Chinese New Year art exhibition featuring artists from different ethnic backgrounds at the international art gallery and it is entirely free. At the International Buddhist Temple in nearby Richmond, there will be a special celebration on New Year’s Eve, which is open to the public. A traditional Lion dance can be seen at the Aberdeen Center as well. So you can see that if you live in the Vancouver area or are planning to visit it,there will be lots of different Chinese New Year celebrations to remind you of home!

Celebrate with your host family and school


Here are some great photos from our students at Central Catholic! The other alternative is to plan different ways to celebrate the Lunar New Year with your host family or schools. You can explain to them what the traditions are in your home country, and perhaps plan to make some special decorations for the home such as Chinese lanterns or red paper cuttings.

Another fun decoration to make is the upside down good luck banners to hang around the home. You can find instructions on how to make them here.Do you know how to make any typical dishes for Chinese New Year from your home country? Wouldn't it be wonderful to make these for your host family? If you don't know how to make a special dish or sweet, you could either try and buy some in your local stores or try making a dish with your host family using many of the recipes available. Here are some delicious recipes for Chinese New year desserts! Here's a great video of Archbishop John Carroll High School's Celebration!

I know that Chinese New Year will be a time when you may feel nostalgia for home, but try to make the best of it by finding some local celebrations to go see and share your unique traditions with your host family! 


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About the author

Sally Forsyth is a High school English teacher and an educational coach. She has worked in national and internatonal schools in different countries and different school systems, She is also the founder of CoachMyFuture, a coaching organization focusing on coaching teachers and educators in the educational sector.

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