I love Chinese New Year. This two-week holiday is jam-packed with cultural traditions including awe-inspiring fireworks, mind-blowing parades, breathtaking lanterns, heart-warming cards, and mouthwatering Chinese dishes. It sounds expensive, but I've found that my family and I can take part in almost all of these activities for free! If you and your family are looking for something festive to do, look out for these fun freebies!

1. Watch a Chinese New Year parade

The Chinese New Year's parade that takes place in San Francisco is one of my favorite things to watch on TV. The festival has been named one of the top ten parades in the world. You can experience gorgeous floats, exploding firecrackers, ferocious lions, Miss Chinatown U.S.A., and of course, a 268-foot golden dragon carried by 100 marital artists! Watch this year's parade on cable (Fox 2 from 6PM-8PM on March 7th). Don't have cable? Stream the live parade from Hong Kong. Enjoy 11 handmade floats and fireworks, along with international, local, and street preforming groups.

2. Participate in Chinese New Year traditions

If you find superstitions interesting, you’ll love these! Keep the good luck rolling in by following these five Lunar New Year traditions:

  • Wear red. You'll ward off spirits and bad juju.
  • If the weather permits, crack open your doors and windows. This allows good luck to wander into your home.
  • You'll want to keep your 60-watt light bulbs burning on Chinese New Year. This sends ghosts and evil spirits packing.
  • Skip washing your hair. If you do, you could accidentally wash away your good fortune.
  • Pass out red packets that are decorated with gold or black Chinese characters for a healthy, long life. You'll need to put an even number of bills inside the packet because odd numbers of money are only given during funerals.

3. Enjoy free museum admission

Select art and cultural museums around the country are offering free admission in celebration of the Lunar New Year. My family and I love these free events and take advantage of the free educational activities that go along with them. Check with your local museum for details. Here are just a few museums offering free or discounted admission:

  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: On February 21st, get free admission for the whole family, and participate in activities all day.
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: On February 28th, celebrate the Met’s “New Beginnings: Lunar New Year Festival” with performances and art-making activities (children under 12 get in free with a paid adult admission).
  • Asian Art Museum, San Francisco: Enjoy free admission for the whole family (courtesy of Target) and hear Lunar New Year stories while making your own work of art.

4. Send free Chinese New Year greeting cards

Ring in the Year of the Sheep by sending loved ones an absolutely free card from Freebie Depot. Choose from 235 different e-cards in 11 categories: formal greetings, thank you, love, inspirational, party invitations, good luck symbols and fortunes, etc.

5. Grab these 5 free Chinese New Year apps

  1. Fortune Cookie: This app allows you to break fortune cookies by shaking your phone or touching its screen. You also can share your fortunes with family and friends on Facebook or Twitter.
  2. Chinese New Year Firecrackers: Usher in Chinese New Year with five firecracker sounds that are played at random.
  3. Chinese Recipes: Throw on your chef's hat and whip up some Chinese party food. Get free, delicious, easy-to-follow recipes that your family will love! Top your meal off with fancy chopsticks, sauces, and fortune cookies.
  4. Chinese Horoscope 2015: Discover what the Year of the Sheep has in store for you. The app has predictions for all 12 Chinese signs (Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Ram, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig). With this application, you can also view daily, weekly, and monthly predictions about wellness, love, work, and money.
  5. Chinese New Year Photo Frames: Kids love this app! Mix and match over 60 high-resolution Chinese New Year photo frames and accessories then show off your images on social media.

This is a guest post by Cherese from Tennessee.