Read image, picture shows red envelops traditional for Chinese New Year

Food? Lion Dance? Lanterns? Family gatherings?

In this blog, I will be sharing some traditions during the celebration of Chinese New Year. This year may be different, but it is still an important date in the year.

How do you normally celebrate? How are you planning to celebrate Chinese New Year this year? Let us know in the comments.

Check out my quiz at the end.

Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival and Lunar New Year usually lasts for 15 days. The celebrations can vary from region to region, however here’s how I would traditionally celebrate:

  • Chinese New Year’s Eve: the family would gather for a reunion dinner, some would go to temples to pray, carry out a lighting ceremony.
  • 1st day: visit the elderly members, watch fireworks, lion dances and eat traditional foods.
  • 2nd day: married daughters would visit their family members, this is known as the beginning of the year – Che Kung’s birthday. You would eat traditional foods such as Poon Choi.
  • 3rd day: the third day of the Chinese New year commonly known as “Chi Kou Ri” (the day of red mouth) is the day to stay home. Older family members who are superstitious believe that a red mouth would result in arguments and quarrel. They also call this day “Chi Gou Ri” meaning (the day of red dog). Traditionally, anyone who runs into the red dog will encounter bad things.
  • 7th day: ‘Renri’ – you would eat Nian Gao, Taro Cakes and turnip cakes
  • 15th day: Lantern Festival – people would eat Sweet Rice Balls and play with lanterns along the street.

The Chinese New Year: 15-Day Celebration To Fright Away The Nian!

The mythology of Chinese New Year:

There is a monster called Nian (年) in legend, once a year, the monster would come to go to the villages to eat village livestock and crops. On this day every year, the scared villagers would escape to the mountains, not returning until Nian had left.

One year an old man came to the village from the mountains, he told them Nian was afraid of noises, fire and the colour red, so the people used drums and fireworks to defeat the monster. Nian never came back. Every year people celebrate this defeat with traditions such as fireworks, drums, lion dance, the colour red and more.

A story in Mandarin: Chinese New Year

Gift Exchange

Gift exchange between friends and family is popular during Chinese New Year, common gifts include chocolate, cakes, biscuits, fruits and candies, you would give them along with red envelopes.

There is an etiquette around exchanging gifts which you can read more about.


It is traditional to give red envelopes during the new year, also known as ‘hongbao’. They are passed out from married couples and relatives to children/unmarried adults.

People also use red packets as ‘Yasui qian’ (red packets with money in), it is thought that the money that suppresses evil. Putting the envelopes underneath the bed is also said to bring good luck.

To gain red packets, children would say blessings to the adults, such as 恭喜發財,紅包逗來: ‘Congratulations and be prosperous, now give me a red envelope!’ (a fun joke in Guangdong and HK that would usually be said by kids.

Traditionally it is regarded that red is the symbol of energy, happiness and good luck. Sending red envelopes (hongbao) is a way to send good wishes and luck.

Traditional Lion Dance:

Flower Markets

Like a Christmas market in the west, Chinese people would go to the flower market before the New Year to buy flowers. Different flowers and fruits have different meanings behind them, for example, mandarins and tangerines: ‘The Chinese word for mandarins happens to be a pun on luck and fortune, so the more fruits you place around the house, the better. Tangerine plants can also be placed near doorways to ensure you bring in good fortune when you’re stepping into your home or workplace.’ – A guide to Chinese New Year flowers and fruits.


You may have seen these Fai Chun around, especially during Chinese New Year.

Fai Chun would be put up in the home, in doorways, with blessing words horizontally or vertically, usually rectangular or square. People put Fai Chun in the doorways for good luck and prosperity. This video explains the tradition and shows the art of making them:


Here are some of the traditional foods that you would usually eat during Chinese New Year, this can vary for different regions. Maybe have a go at making one of them:

Chinese New Year Food: Top 7 Lucky Foods and Symbolism

Some of the traditional Chinese New Year greetings:

新年快樂: Happy New Year

大吉大利: Great luck, great profit

年年有餘: Wish for surpluses and bountiful harvests every year

金玉滿堂: May your wealth [gold and jade] come to fill a hall

萬事如意: May all your wishes be fulfilled

福壽雙全: May your happiness and longevity be complete

恭喜發財,紅包逗來: Congratulations and be prosperous, now give me a red envelope! (a fun joke in Guangdong and HK that would usually be said by the kids)

Quiz – ‘greetings’, test your knowledge:



Happy New Year to anyone celebrating, let us know how you will be celebrating the year of the Ox!

Resources on Chinese New Year

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