What to celebrate – a Valentine’s Day or Chinese New Year?

While rest of the world celebrates Valentine’s Day or Week or Month, Asia prepares itself for another celebration – the Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year. Along with the spirit of love is in the air, you will find red lanterns, scent of mandarin oranges and delicious food in the Asian air. The tempting smell of street food and Chinese delicacies when combined with the spirit of Valentine’s day evokes some of the strong reactions from your body – hunger. So if your valentine is happy with a McDonald’s Happy Meal then great! Hang onto your partner. If no, think again – which one you want to celebrate sumptuously?

Although incomparable in its true sense, these two holiday events share many similarities and the most common aspect is the selfless nature of celebration, joy and happiness. Neither I am from Chinese origins nor a devoted follower of Saint Valentine. However, I have been living in a multi-cultural Asian country for a while and the month of February has always been a festive time. It is better if you get to know few things that are uncommonly common between the two celebrations:

Both of the festive celebrations are mainly centered around People – reaching out to your family & friends, sharing and caring with your loved ones and spending some good time with each other. On one hand, CNY is celebrated among a group of people – friends/ families/ relatives; On the other hand, a Valentine’s day would be more of a two-players game. But if you prefer to play against computer – totally fine by me. I understand.

The color Red – symbolizes the love or passion for Valentine’s day and brings two individuals closer – momentarily. A red dress or red tie, red roses, red greeting cards and even gifts wrapped in red color papers. However, the color red, as per Chinese legends and myths, was something that the mythical beast “Nian” or Year in Chinese was afraid of and so the villagers started decorating their doors and windows with red lanterns and scrolls. On the contrary, on Valentine’s day, it would work other way round. On seeing your valentine in that sexy red dress (the one you didn’t buy) it blocks your thinking capacity and provokes you to make a mistake – a commitment for lifetime. “You look so beautiful. Will you marry me?” Some wise old men say those are the last words of a happy man.

No festive season’s celebration is complete without Food. Traditionally, the CNY was a family dinner celebrated mostly at home by inviting families and friends. However, these days, people tend to go to restaurants for family dinners. Who wants to do the dishes on the day of a festival? Although depending on your interest and digestion capacity, you may want to try out some Chinese delicacies. But who say’s you can’t do that on Valentine’s day? So, food wise for celebrating either one you will need to go out to a restaurant which brings us to the most important factor – money.

Talking about Money, celebrating a Valentine’s day with a sumptuous dinner could burn a hole in your pocket. Generally speaking, in CNY, elders would give money to young people or children in red envelopes (yes, they really do. Now don’t ask me the amount). And don’t you dare give me the argument of exchanging the gifts, goodies or even cuddle bears – that’s all mutually benefiting. While you may argue there’s no monetary gain on Valentine’s day but there’s a loss. Picture this and tell me – you both have gorged up that 5-course Valentine special dinner in that expensive restaurant. Sitting in that little corner in dim light you are lost into the thoughts of your bright future with the person sitting opposite to you. And while you are engrossed looking deep into each other’s eyes with utmost affection  – whose twinkling little eyes suddenly become wide open at the glance of bill? Yes, only one person pays the bill – that’s the bottom line. I can’t speak of my Dutch friends  – I often wonder do they go Dutch on such occasions? May be you can tell me more about it.

I could go on about many other factors to help you make your mind. But the last one would have nailed it better than any. So, I hereby rest my case to your sound judgement. Unless you are already a victim of cupid’s arrow. “Ouch! That hurts, Cupid!” Now that you have made up your mind to celebrate Valentine’s day do consider my time-tested advice.


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