February 16 marks the start of the Lunar New Year, and millions of people around the world will usher in the year of the dog with family, friends, and plenty of delicious (and auspicious!) food.
But there's a lot of work that goes into preparing both your physical and mental space ahead of the new year. We spoke with Susan Chan of Feng Shui Creative to find out what areas of your home (and life) need special attention, specifically as it relates to Chinese culture.
"In feng shui, the windows represent your eyes, or more specifically how you see things. When windows are dirty, especially this time of year in the U.S., it can make for blurry vision, lack of clarity, or not even noticing obvious things. Clean all the windows in your home while setting the intention to see all the opportunities that come your way during the year and to have the clarity to make all the right decisions."
"Sweeping from the inside out signifies, again, getting rid of the old to make room for the new."
"This is not necessarily your physical space, but it's an important place to put your focus before the new year. Pay your debts as best as you can. Ideally, you will have paid back all your debt in full. If that’s not possible, pay what you can, but set a concrete plan to pay off the reminder (i.e., auto-deduct from your paycheck, pre-date checks for the next 12 months, etc). Intention in feng shui plays a very important role."
"The color red is a very auspicious and lucky color in the Chinese culture. During Chinese New Year, it’s even more widespread. After you’re done with your cleaning, you can move on to decorating, or what I call 'embellishing.' Buy or add something red to your space to welcome in the lucky and prosperous energy of the year. I understand if you don’t want Chinese lanterns hanging all over the place, so feel free to adapt this suggestion to your personal aesthetic. Candles, place mats, and flowers are great, inexpensive ways to add a splash of feisty color to your space."
"Don't wash your hair on Chinese New Year. It is thought that washing your hair on new year's day washes away good fortune, so make sure you plan for that!"
"Do good deeds. No matter what animal or energy is in store for you, the best way to have an optimal year is to do a good deed a day with the intention that you will have a smooth year."
We were also curious about what the year of the dog signified. "In general, since it's a double earth year, it's best for people to be steady, grounded, and not impulsive," Chan explains. "Things may go a bit slower than usual, but those who do careful short- and long-term planning will do best this year. It's also a time to go inward since Earth can be very supportive for self-reflection, meditation, and any other spiritual endeavors. It's best to be patient, stay grounded, down-to-earth, and practical with decisions and overall perspective this year."
Chan also shared some interesting insights as to why she thinks the art of feng shui is enjoying greater popularity the world over. "I think people in general are drawn to feng shui because we are a society of consumerism, leading people to have an overabundance of things, which in turn blocks the flow in their home and lives," she explains. "They have trouble letting go and realize that principles in the art of feng shui can help them return back to an optimal flow in their space and in their lives."
At the end of the day, the ancient art of feng shui guides us to be more mindful of the space around us, and act with intention in all that we do. We'd say those are two principles worth espousing year-round.
If you celebrate the Lunar New Year, tell us: How do you prepare your home? Even if you don't celebrate, what parts of these practices most resonated with you? Let us know below.