What are a few of the Chinese New Year traditions?

BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES STUDENT, CHUI-YAN CHEUNG, SHARES SOME EXPERIENCES OF CHINESE NEW YEAR…

It’s the time of year where those of us with Chinese heritage or cultural upbringing begin to prepare for the Spring Festival aka Chinese New Year. This is a traditional Chinese celebration that welcomes the start of a new lunar year. It begins on the 16th February for 2018 and lasts 15 days. It is the year of the dog. My family has always celebrated Chinese New Year, so we follow some of the traditions.

The thing I look forward to most is receiving my lucky money. This is typically put in a red envelope and may be referred as “red packets”. My parents give these to me and my siblings at the start of Chinese New Year after saying the New Year’s greeting “kung hei fat choy”, which is the Cantonese version of wishing prosperity. My grandparents and aunts/uncles will also give these to the children of the family as it is meant for good luck. Traditionally, those that are married will give these red packets to their unmarried family members.

Another tradition that many Chinese folk, including my mum, do is clean their home before the start of the New Year. This is due to the superstition that you would be sweeping away your good luck you just received during this time, if you do it after the celebrations. My family also decorates our doors with couplets written on red paper, which are sentences that express good wishes. We place a fu character written on red paper (meaning good fortune) upside down on our doors as well as it represents good fortune pouring out onto the people that walk through the door.

In our family, we usually buy a Tray of Togetherness, which has several compartments filled with symbolic sweets such as dried candied fruits and vegetables and nuts/seeds. For example, peanuts has symbolisms for good health, longevity etc. We also have a big meal together with associated lucky foods like dumplings and fish. I sometimes wear a traditional silk dress called qipao with my family. But it’s only a tradition to wear new clothes for Chinese New Year. So, we tend to opt into just wearing new modern clothes instead, especially in red colours because of its lucky connotations.

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