How To Celebrate Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year traditions, Chinese New Year customs, Chinese New Year celebration

The Lunar New Year also known as Chinese New Year falls on February 19, 2015 this year. yes that's tomorrow. This holiday which begins with the first new moon of the Lunar New Year and the Spring Festival lasts for 15 days. This happy occasion is celebrated in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam as well as Korea and Japan. Many Chinese communities in major cities around the world also carry out their own festivities. Preparations for the celebration often begins weeks before the big day and there are a number of customs/traditions that people observe in order to usher in the coming year in the most propitious manner. These are some of the most common which we actually observe in our household as well.

1. Clean the house
The entire home should be cleaned before New Year's day. Anything broken should be repaired or discarded and all cleaning implements are to be stored away out of sight. This tradition is founded on the belief that a thorough cleaning of your house will "sweep away" all the stagnant energy that has built up over the past year and prepares you for a fresh start.

2. Decorate the house
People decorate their homes because it is festive and also to encourage good fortune and abundance. Red is widely used because it symbolizes happiness. Gold is used to signify prosperity. People use items like red lanterns (good luck), mystic knots (protection) and plants (good luck). They also commonly place nine oranges or tangerines with the leaves attached to guard against bad luck and attract prosperity.

3. Buy lucky flowers and plants
Decorating the home with flowers is believed to have a positive impact on the family's fortune since it is based on the belief that fruits cannot be beared without flowers and they are thought to be good decorations since they are full of meaning. Fortuitous flowers and plants include pussy willows (growth & prosperity), cherry blossoms (rebirth & new growth), orchids (perfection & purity), peonies (love & romance) and bamboo (luck).

4. Get a haircut
It is considered bad luck to cut anything or handle any sharp objects during the New Year so people typically schedule haircuts the week before.

5. Buy new clothes
Wearing new clothes on New Year's day is a way to start the year off right. Of course red is the preferred color and some will opt to wear new red underwear. Black and white are considered unlucky colors and should be avoided.

6. Get together for dinner with loved ones
Families gather for reunion dinners to feast on a bounty of traditional dishes which are rich in symbolism. Learn more about Chinese New Year Lucky Foods.

7. Give red envelopes
This is a time of sharing and connecting and people give each other gifts of red envelopes (lai see/hong bao) filled with money. The red color of the envelopes symbolizes good luck and the tradition is believed to ward off evil spirits. New notes in even amounts should be given as odd numbers are associated with cash distributed at funerals.

8. Avoid taboos
There are a number of superstitions centered around activities that are considered unlucky and should thus be avoided during the New Year. Since this is a time of happiness and good will, don't fight or quarrel. Don't say anything negative and don't cry because it's bad luck. Avoid washing your hair on the first day because you don't want to wash away any good luck. Same goes for washing clothes. Similarly no cleaning or taking out the trash if you don't want to rid yourself of good fortune.

This is the year of the wooden ram, sheep or goat depending on your interpretation. In Chinese, the word yang 羊 is used interchangeably for all three. In any case, the ram/sheep/goat is the eighth sign of twelve in the Chinese zodiac and is considered an auspicious animal that brings promise and prosperity.

Here's to a happy, healthy and prosperous new year to everyone celebrating! Gong Hei Fat Choy! Gong Xi Fa Cai! 新年快樂! 恭禧发财! My husband and I always visit the Buddhist temple with my mom on New Year's Day. If you're in New York City, here is a list of some of the festivities happening around town.


Chinese New Year traditions, Chinese New Year customs, Chinese New Year celebration


Photos: one//two//three//four//five//six//seven//eight//nine

46 comments

FASHION TALES said...

Wonderful post Rowena. It's always nice to know more about Chinese New Year. At my work we celebrate CNY, and it's a huge festive time, and I remember getting the red envelopes. :-) Gong Xi Fa Cai!
Tartan and Houndstooth

Diana Ashuayem said...

Happy New year! I always love how people decorate their homes. Hope you have a good one.
www.effortlesslady.com

Anonymous said...

Oh I loved this, I've always wanted to know more about the traditions :-)

Lilli said...

Oh, I didnt know it falls tmw! Wish I celebrated it too, Im so fascinated by Chinese (Asian in general) culture and traditions! I see some of those customs are in common with ours, but I didnt know the tradition of not cut hair, lol I have thought to do it tmw but Im thinking to not do it anymore!:) Hope you have an amazing celebration with your mom and hubby dear, Gong Hei Fat Choy! Many hugs and love! xo

Jackie Harrison said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jackie Harrison said...

Sorry spelling error above Happy Chinese New Year cool that you have to give a red envelope on this holiday.

Stanislava E. said...

Wow, Rowena, I heard about the Chinese New Year, but I didn't know it's tomorrow! Well, I didn't know it starts with the first new moon, is it like this every January? So many new things to me! All these traditions and beliefs are very interesting. To be honest, I never clean and the house after the NYE here, simply because usually I am tired from the party, haha. Anyway, happy new Chinese year! I hope that it will be prosperous indeed! xo

Kizzy Von Doll said...

This is marvellous my dear!! I hope you have a wonderful celebration..I believe this is my year (1979) I would love to be around where there is celebrations, it is a time that has always fascinated me, thank you for doing this post!! Gong Hei Fat Choy!! Lots of hugs and love to you my dear xx

Emmylou said...

Gong Hei Fat Choy, Rowena:) Our celebration begins tonight, which kinda sucks coz it's Ash Wednesday for my religion too, which means no meat.
Anyhoo, wishing you a wonderful New Year!:)

Kelsey & Kenecha said...

Happy Chinese New Year Love xx It is great reading things like this and getting to know you better :) It is crazy how different our new year compared to yours, yours seems more exciting!

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Natalia | Fashioned by Love said...

What a wonderful guide, Rowena! Thank you very much! x

Shireen L. Platt said...

Reading this post made me miss my family, how they fuss over every little details before CNY. The atmosphere is so different, everyone is busy decorating and preparing for the arrival of CNY but it's so quiet here.
We'll be heading to Vancouver to see the CNY parade this weekend. Hubby thought it would be nice for me to have a small taste of home. :-)

Gong Hei Fat Choy to you and family, Rowena!

p/s: Do you speak any Chinese dialect?

Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

Gabrielle said...

This is a wonderful insight into how the new year is welcomed in! I feel excited for you - I love the idea of cleaning and decorating the home and of course wearing new clothes to welcome in the New Year! How interesting..

Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice

x

Anonymous said...

I like these traditions! Getting a haircut and buy new clothes - yes, I'm all for it :) Too bad I will be missing the parade next week as I'll be back in Europe by then. Hope you enjoy the festivities!

www.LUXESSED.com

365HANGERS said...

We literally knew none of this. Thanks so much for sharing, so interesting.

xx 365Hangers

Simera H said...

Wishing you a Happy New Year Rowena.
Beautetude

Style For Mankind said...

Awesome post! Love your photos too. Have an amazing Tuesday dear! :)

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Maggie Dallospedale said...

Happy New Year sweet Rowena!!!!!!
So interesting post, thank you thank you for sharing
Kisses
Maggie D.
Fashion Blog Maggie Dallospedale fashion diary

Corinne said...

Sounds like so much fun, sadly we don't celebrate it here in the uk :(

Corinne x
www.skinnedcartree.com

Debra Lynn Mejia said...

Happy New Year Rowena! Thanks for explaining. I knew some of those things from friends, but it was nice to read all of the traditions associated with Chinese New Year.

Jane @ anothermommablog.blogspot.com said...

Happy Chinese New Year! We do a lot of the things you shared. I look forward to it every year :)

Paola Lauretano said...

Really interesting!!!!
Happy new year darling Rowena!!!!
Kisses, Paola.

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Valerie Price said...

Lovely post! I really enjoyed learning more about the Chinese New Year! :)

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Mira Devils said...

Gong Hei Fat Choy Rowena!! I'm glad you posted this. I was curious how you guys celebrate the new year. It's much better than the traditions we have over here. I'm going to buy peonies and new clothes! Wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous new year too!!

xx glamdevils.com / miradevils.blogspot.com

Made in Mauve said...

Fab post. Happy Chinese New Year

Made in Mauve // Bloglovin

oomph. said...

good to know about the red envelopes and even numbers. i used to always get envelopes with $1 or $5..hmmm!

Rosemary Nardone said...

I actually attended a Chinese New Year dinner one year and it was lots of fun. So much great food, it just kept coming out the whole night. Hope you have a GREAT day !!

Alicia Mackin said...

Haha no sharp objects, I should follow the rules of Chinese New Year all year around with all the bad haircuts I have had!

Allie of ALLIENYC
allienyc.com

Jessica said...

Wow! These tips are perfect. I had no idea about most of these!

Jessica @ Sunny Days and Starry Nights

My Garden Diaries said...

I learned so much through your post today Rowena! This was awesome! And the cleaning house piece makes so much sense! It makes me want to hop to it right now to get all that out of my house! Such fascinating traditions that we could all grow from!!! Happy Chinese New Year!!! Nicole xoxo

Angel Pinkoolaid said...

I grew up in a traditional chinese community since I went to a chinese school but when i moved away for college and then work i really don't bother with the beliefs and practices anymore hehehe

http://www.pinkoolaid.com/

Lia Fashionista said...

I love chinese food but now i have started loving chinese traditions too :)

Diva In Me said...

It's great that you pointed out all these taboos which my mom would be reminding me every single year what to do and what not. LOL! I'm wishing you a great and joyous year of ram. May you and family be blessed with great health and wealth. Gong Xi Fa Cai =)

Elle Sees said...

happy new year! i needed these tips last week! ;)

miss b said...

What a wonderful post! I knew about a few of these traditions such as cleaning the house and the red envelopes but you have included so many other interesting details which fascinated me. Beautiful images too! Gong Hei Fat Choy!

Nequéren Reis said...

Postagem maravilhosa amei, Curta e siga o meu canal
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LOCPg0HbTA

Ivana Split said...

This was really interesting to red! I'm wearing a red hoodie right now:) ( I'm at home) so I hope that brings me luck. I think it's always important to think positive and traditions like you have described can really help us begin this new lunar year in the right way.

Happy New Year...and I hope you'll have a great time with your mother and husband. It's always great to be with family:)

Christina @ Happy or Else said...

I love this so very much! There's nothing like new beginnings and these are such ceremonious but simple ways to do it. I'm going to do some!!!! I need to create the traditions of our family and bring in things from when I grew up! LOVE! PS...luckily I got my hair cut last week! ha!

Beauty Editer said...

This is so amazing! <3

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Storybook Apothecary said...

awesome post! I'm thinking dim sum tonight - I just read that my favorite daikon cake is really good luck so WIN! :D Happy Chinese New Year to you - wishing you good luck and happiness all year ♥

Come Chat With Me ♥ http://storybookapothecary.com :)

Kim Alston said...

Excellent post Rowena! I'm not Asian and I LOVE following these customs. I think they're excellent practices. I wore red today! Happy Lunar New Year!
http://www.averysweetblog.com/

jeanine said...

Happy New Year, Rowena! I wish you lots of happiness, luck, and good health in the new year

JeannLiew | Luminnej said...

Hi Rowena,

Nice indeed that we are celebrating this festive occasion all around the world. Most definitely a joyous occasion. I hope you and family are enjoying this special time of the year!

May the new year of the sheep brings you great health, joy and prosperity *_^ May your endeavour at work and this blog here reach even greater success and height which you are already enjoying now.

Best of the best, my friend. Will be back for more lovely updates from you!

Cheers,
Jeann

Vanessa N said...

Happy Belated CNY! My mom made us clean the entire house last week and it was pretty exhausting. Anyways, like the terrible Asian that I am, I was all like, "Where are the mooncakes?" WRONG FESTIVAL, VANESSA.

Anonymous said...

Great post!

www.DeluxeFashionista.com

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

I'm late commenting but I loved this post!