WORDS BY STEPHEN YU
Get ready to welcome the year of the rat. While Chinese New Year might just be a good excuse for you to eat your bodyweight in dumplings, it’s also a real opportunity for you to kickstart your year with a bang. Forget your failed New Year’s resolutions, in fact forget yourself and start focusing on what really matters – your child’s future. How? Following Lunar New Year traditions can make sure 2020 is a great year for your infant, and their Chinese New Year outfit is a key part of it. Not sure where to start? Luckily Chinese New Year clothes are something we know a thing or two about.
But, to make sure you’re not culturally appropriating China’s good luck without knowing a thing or two about the celebration’s origins, please read on to educate yourselves just a little bit before we fill you in on the best Chinese New Year outfit ideas for your child. Make it the year of your rugrat!
What Does Chinese New Year Represent?
When the tradition began, China was largely an agrarian society (meaning they actually wore workwear for functional reasons not just to be on-trend) so the start of Spring Festival was about putting one finger up to the coldest days of winter and welcoming the warm embrace of spring – a time for new beginnings and fresh starts (cue leaping lambs and cute chicks hatching). While these days, it’s more about transitioning our wardrobes, for our land-farming ancestors it was a time to pray to the gods for a good harvest season, not just for new season Dior.
This is the one to tell your kids (although maybe not on Chinese new year day, you’ll soon find out why…).
There once was a village in China, where a mythical beast called the Nian would come out of the sea and devour the villagers (especially children) on the night before the start of the lunar year. Obviously, this was not chill, so the villagers would go into hiding every new year’s eve, taking refuge in the mountains to evade the beast. Then one year, an old man with a walking stick came into the village on new year’s eve. Not only was he totally not invited, but he wanted to stay in one of the gaffs overnight and in return he said he’d get rid of their monster problem. Yeh right! Of course, the villagers all thought him a bit barmy, but let him stay anyway. When they returned the next day, they were left completely wigless when they discovered the village was totally untouched. Turns out the old man was not so mad after all, and had figured out that the Nian was scared of the colour red, bright lights and loud noises.
To this day, we honour this by covering the house in red paper cut-outs and poetry couplets, lighting candles and leaving the lights on, and burning firecrackers. Nowadays, most people celebrate it by getting new Lunar New Year clothes, so if you ever needed an excuse to shop at Farfetch, this is it.
Why Is The Chinese New Year Celebrated?
Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in China (think Thanksgiving or Christmas levels) and it’s basically all about family, and the three things that matter most in life – health, wealth and food.
It’s a time to honour the gods, we burn incense before statues of Karl Lagerfeld, thanking him for helping us survive the previous year, absolving us of all our fashion crimes, and praying for prosperity (and new Yeezy’s) in the new year. Not only worshipping deities, we remember our ancestors and honour the elders still with us too, with most people making the long pilgrimage home for the annual reunion dinner.
What Day Is Chinese New Year?
As Chinese New Year marks the start of the the new lunar calendar year, it means it falls on the first day that the first new moon appears between the 21st January to the 20th February. This year, it falls on Saturday 25th of January, better get a move on if you want to sort out your toddler’s Chinese New Year outfit.
Chinese New Year Outfit Ideas For Your Child
New Clothes Symbolise New Beginnings
It’s important to treat your children to new clothes at Chinese New Year, since they definitely didn’t get spoiled enough at Christmas or during the January sales. But seriously, new clothes are auspicious and ward off evil spirits so don’t scrimp! Washing clothes, like washing hair is a no-no unless you want to flush all that good luck down the drain, it’s a good excuse to leave the dirty dishes and laundry for one more day too. However, don’t be tempted to whip out the AMEX to buy anything new, going into debt at the start of CNY means you’ll be in debt for the rest of the year, so put down the plastic and opt for the brightest clothes in your child’s wardrobe if you can’t afford it. Lunar New Year clothes shouldn’t break the bank.
Sorry Sneakerheads, No New Sneakers
Confusingly getting new shoes for your children signifies that you want to walk out of a relationship with them, better preserve that precious mother and child bond and buy some shoes for your annoying mother-in-law instead. Just joking, get these Air Jordan 4’s now so they arrive well before CNY. Matching daddy and daughter sneaker combos is also one of our favorite Chinese New Year outfit ideas for maximum luck.
Dress Them In Red, Especially If They’re Rats
Remember the story of the Nian, make sure to dress your little one in red to avoid being devoured at night. Mythology aside, red is the symbol of good fortune and luck (of course, what else) so make sure to turn your baby girl into a magnet for all things great in the coming year by making her wear this Chinese New Year dress from Cashmirinio. No red? Any bright colors will do! Even more importantly, if your child was born in the year of the rat (it’s easy, they’re either newborn or 12) then it’s even more important to dress them in bold colors as this can be an unlucky year for them!
Avoid All-white Or Black
If you’re following our rules, then you already know that kitting out your daughter in all-red makes for the best Chinese New Year clothes for your little princess. But, don’t be tempted to ruin things by layering their all-white or all-black backpack on top to finish their outfit. These are traditional funeral colors in China and symbolize bad luck. Don’t fall at the final hurdle, get you baby girl this fetch red bag so they can help you carry leftover dim sum home for dinner.
Cut Their Fringes Before New Year's Day
You’ll have to get their hair cut before Chinese New Year for two reasons: if you wash their hair on new year’s day you’re effectively washing their luck away, and also you’re not supposed to cut anything either as it represents severing relationships or separating yourself from wealth and fortune. It’s why it’s common to eat uncut noodles too, as they symbolize longevity and long life. Can’t resist cute fringes? Better to keep it wrapped round their necks rather than dangling from their heads with this Burberry scarf. The perfect finishing touch to your toddler’s Chinese New Year outfit.
Get Some Fresh Air, But Make Sure They Don't Get Cold
It’s traditional at midnight on new year's eve to open all the doors and windows of your house to let the old year out and welcome the new one in. If you want to make it even easier for all that yummy good luck to enter the house, you’ll be leaving the doors and windows wide open all day, so it’s 100% necessary to make sure your sprog stays warm enough to enjoy all that luck! Opt for this Burberry duffle coat, we’ve calculated it’ll be cheaper than having your heating on full blast for one day. Also, walking around Chinatown later on can be freezing, and you wouldn’t want any stylish Asians judging your baby’s Chinese New Year outfit unfavorably.
Scare Away The Evil Spirits With Animal Print
Dragon dances are often performed during Chinese New Year to bring good luck, and the longer it is, the luckier you’ll be. Go one step further with your Chinese New Year clothes for your boy, and dress him in dragon print so you can maximize their luck all day. In fact, don’t let them take it off until next year if you want to go full tiger mum and have your child be the envy of every mother at school. Okay, we’ll admit that this is actually eagle print but that’ll still keep the evil spirits at bay, and they look like kung fu pants too so your son can practice his spinning kicks in them.
And They All Lived Happily Ever After
If you’ve got a hankering to watch the ‘Blair Witch Project’ or the ‘Saw’ series with your family, hopefully we shouldn’t have to tell you that’s not good for your young ones. And that goes double for Chinese New Year. Watching anything with death, dying or ghosts in it is totally not auspicious at the best of times, but it’s even more unlucky during CNY. So keep the bedtime stories about happy things, if your child cries on the day then it can spell misfortune for the rest of the year. If you just can’t resist watching ‘The Ring’, at least keep their focus on all things happy with this Stella McCartney cardie which is covered in cute hearts, it was practically made for your infant’s Chinese New Year outfit.