Chinese New Year is coming!

« back to blog home | Mon 16 Jan 2012

Xin Nian Kuai Le! Chinese New Year is coming soon, so here's our quick guide to celebrating it yourself at home.

For those of you new to Chinese culture, the Chinese still use an old calendar system based on the phases of the moon, so the Chinese new year falls a little later than the Gregorian calendar most commonly used around the world. Each year is associated with an animal, and the next year will be a Dragon year – a very lucky symbol in Chinese culture.

This year, Chinese New Year is on the 22nd January (the night before is called chu xi and that's on the 21st) - if you're looking to celebrate the Chinese New Year, here's a few little tips:

  • Light firecrackers – the night before, starting at midnight, you light firecrackers outside your house. This often continues throughout the night, as many families will pick an auspicious time (sometimes at 3 or 4am) to set off fireworks.
  • Clean up! It's important before the New Year comes that your house (and you) is clean to welcome in the New Year.
  • Eat vegetables! In some parts of China, it's traditional that on the eve of the New Year, you don't eat meat. This is a semi-religious practice, coming from Buddhist and Taoist traditions where vegetables help purify (and clean) your body.
  • Red packets! If you're a kid, this is the best part of the Chinese New Year – just like Christmas presents, children and older relatives all receive hong bao; little red packets stuffed with money.
  • Wear something red – to welcome in the New Year, it's traditional to wear something red and new on the 22nd. It's even better to wear all-red, but just one thing is OK.
  • Wake up early and greet your friends and family! On the 22nd, the main part of the day is spent eating and greeting your friends and family, wishing them a Happy New Year.
  • Give gifts of food - this is called 送年 (song nian) and in different areas, you give different gifts. In my wife's hometown, you give nuts, chicken or pork and also a type of rice noodles.

And finally, if you're not sure what to say to celebrate, here's a quick guide:

  • 新年快乐 (xin nian kuai le) – Happy New Year
  • 恭喜发财 (gong xi fa cai) – Congratulations and Good Fortune
  • 恭喜发财 (gung hey fat choi) – the Cantonese version of the above
  • 万事如意 (wan shi ru yi) – lit. “10,000 Things Successful”
  • 身体健康 (shen ti jian kang) – Wishing you good health (say it to older relatives)

OK, all set? Hope you have a wonderful Chinese New Year and we'll see you in the Year of the Dragon!

Add your comment