How to celebrate Chinese New Year - Simple Ways to Partake in this Festivity

February 12, 2017

How to celebrate Chinese New Year - Simple Ways to Partake in this Festivity


Chinese New Year is one of my favourite festivals of the year! Depending on where you live, chances are you'll probably notice that shopping malls and Asian supermarkets are all decked out in bright red of all sorts. The Chinese New Year or sometimes refer to as the Spring Festival is a big deal, almost as big or if not bigger than Christmas holidays for Chinese. During the last week before the New Year, traditional Chinese families are usually tied up with chores like house cleaning, shopping and decorating. On top of that, they also need to prepare for feasting and fill red envelopes with lucky money - all in anticipation to welcome the arrival of the New Year.

The date for Chinese New Year varies every year. To find out the date in which the New Year falls on, Chinese families refer to the Lunar Calendar.

Here, I'll show you some of the simplest things that you could do to be a part of this special day.


Dress up in Red

I love dressing up. So of course, I’d use this opportunity to dress up like a Chinese doll. Our new family member, SnoHo was dressed up for the New Year too.

How to celebrate Chinese New Year - Simple Ways to Partake in this Festivity
{Read story of SnoHo}



How to celebrate Chinese New Year - Simple Ways to Partake in this Festivity
{Which outfit would you wear on Chinese New Year?}




Picture on the right is a semi-traditional Chinese top that I had tailor-made in Shenzhen a long time ago. I made some alterations to the traditional sleeves and collar. The buttons on the front chest also line down diagonally instead of vertically centered. Although, less people are willing to wear the traditional outfits nowadays and more inclined to wear in bright colours such as red and gold.  Chinese love these colours. They bring us good fortune. So, when in doubt, wear red!
How to celebrate Chinese New Year - Dress in Red Outfit ideas
{Shimmery Lace Top | Hong Kong, Red Skirt | Forever 21, Leopard Ankle Boots | Forever 21, Red Should Bag | Zara, Gold Heart Chain Bracelet | Tory Burch}
How to celebrate Chinese New Year - Dress in Red Outfit ideas
{Red Pockets Inspired Nails for Chinese New Year}

Write Chinese New Year Couplets 揮春

Chinese New Year couplets represent wishes you want to have in the coming year. People often buy them from the Asian markets. Those with calligraphy talents prefer to hand-letter their own on red papers.

These wishes are often in 4-letter words. I've compiled the most common wishes found in Chinese couplets during this time so you could try to write your own too.


  • 恭喜發財 (Wishing you prosperity and wealth)
  • 大吉大利 (Great fortune and great favour)
  • 出入平安 (Wishing you always safe where you go)     
  • 新年快樂 (Happy Chinese New Year)
  • 萬事如意 (May everything go as you hope)
  • 年年有餘 (May there be bounty every year
  • 龍馬精神 (Wishing you boundless energy)
  • 青春常駐 (Wishing you youthful vigor)
  • 恭賀新禧 (Best wishes for the year to come)
  • 吉星高照 (Good luck in the year ahead)
  • 多福多壽 (Live long and prosper)

*Remember: Chinese words are written vertically down.
How to celebrate Chinese New Year - Simple Ways to Partake in this Festivity
{May whatever your heart desires come true (left), Forever beautiful (right)}

Prepare a Candy Tray 全盒

Families keep a tray of candies and sweets at home to greet guests during the Chinese New Year. The round tray is a symbol of togetherness. Traditionally, you'll find melon seeds and candied lotus seeds in the candy tray. However, depending on what you like, you could fill it up with any sweets you want. My family like to fill ours up with candies that we know we could finish. Otherwise, it would be a long time until we could give them away on Halloween.

How to celebrate Chinese New Year - Simple Ways to Partake in this Festivity


Make a  Sign 

The word, 福 (pronounced, "Fook") means fortune and blessings. The traditional way of putting this sign is on the front door upside down, meaning that fortune will come to you. All you need to do is get a square piece of red-coloured paper and hand drawn the word on the front. Once you've finished, flip it upside down and taped it on the front door.

Print out this template and trace the word onto red paper with a paint brush in black.

How to celebrate Chinese New Year - Simple Ways to Partake in this Festivity
How to celebrate Chinese New Year - Simple Ways to Partake in this Festivity

Buy Fresh Plants

For good fortune, families'd buy a bunch of cherry blossoms, bamboos or even orchids from Asian markets to freshen up the house and bring in good luck. Other plants that are considered lucky and common during this time include Pussy Willows, Jade Plant, Flamingo Lily and the most popular, Tangerine tree. Find out how to make your own Cherry Blossoms with felt. These will last forever.

How to celebrate Chinese New Year - Make Your Own Cherry Blossoms
{ Make your own Cherry Blossoms for Chinese New Year}







Fill Red Packets or Envelopes With Cash 逗利是

Married couples and elders prepare these red packets with cash to gift the young and single ones.

Historically-speaking, this "lucky money" is for suppressing evil spirits. Nowadays, people just treat it as a way of gifting. The receiver of these red packets need to keep them under the pillow on New Year's eve before he/she can open them up the next day. This cash money could be as little or as much as you're most comfortable with. It usually varies from $5-$20 CDN. If you receive red packets, the proper etiquette is to never open them up in front of the giver. You could easily find these red packets with different designs in Asian markets a month before Chinese New Year.

How to celebrate Chinese New Year - Simple Ways to Partake in this Festivity


Plan a Family Dinner And Eat Auspicious Food 團年飯

Yes! Eating is the greatest part of Chinese New Year! We don't just eat any food, like everything else we do for this celebration, they have to be "lucky". So what's considered lucky and auspicious? Believe it or not, dishes that rhyme or sound like any positive vocabularies, are considered auspicious and lucky. Also, Chinese New Year is a time to bring the family together which is why it often involves big dinners with many lucky dishes. 

You could incorporate these to your dinner during the week before New Year or on New Year's eve.

How to celebrate Chinese New Year - Simple Ways to Partake in this Festivity
  • Tangerines 吉 (pronounced "gut") are the most popular fruit for Chinese New Year, all because they sound like the word, “luck”.
  • Brown Sugar Rice Cakes 年糕 (pronounced "leen go") is my favourite Chinese dish, which sounds the same as 年高(糕), meaning "year high". I like to cut these into square slices and dipped them into egg yolk before pan frying them on both sides. You could easily buy them in a pack in any Chinese supermarkets or you could make your own following this recipe. You could also make one using the Instant Pot! Woot!
  • Turnip Cakes 蘿蔔糕 (pronounced "law bak go") symbolizes progression. You could find this dish in any Chinese restaurants at dim sum. The turnip cake like the brown sugar rice cake are easily found in any Chinese supermarkets. To make your own, follow this recipe.
  • Fish 魚 (pronounced "yu") is popular in Chinese culture regardless of the occasion. Fish is usually steamed with simple garnishes such as green onions, soy sauce and ginger. If you're unfamiliar with steaming, any cooking method will work as well. Fish is believed to mean “to have surpluses every year”.
  • Chicken 雞 (pronounced "gai") also sounds similar to "gut" like Tangerines, suggesting good luck.

    How to celebrate Chinese New Year - Simple Ways to Partake in this Festivity
  • Black Moss With dried oysters 髮菜蠔豉 (pronounced "fat choy ho see") – it sounds similar to prosperity and "good things". You almost rarely see this dish unless it's an important occasion since Black Moss is expensive and banned from China. When I was a kid, I enjoyed eating them because they looked like hair but with flavour!
  • Pig Knuckles 豬手 (pronounced "Ju Sau") means handy and easy, suggesting one could achieve things without effort.
  • Lettuce 生菜 (pronounced "Sang Choi") sounds like "growing money". You could cook them with meat like the pig knuckles.
  • Sweet Fried Dumplings 油角 (pronounced "Yau Gok") looks like the gold ingots that were used as currency as far back as Tang Dynasty and are now a symbolism for wealth. My in-law loves making these dumplings for Chinese New Year. Traditionally, they contain peanuts, dried coconut and sesame seeds. Follow this recipe to make your own dumplings.
How to celebrate Chinese New Year - Simple Ways to Partake in this Festivity


These are just some of the food that we get to stuff ourselves with for Chinese New Year. If you want to practice or improve your Chinese, try relating a type of food to some sort of lucky idioms. This is a pretty fun activity to break the ice during extended big family dinners.

How to celebrate Chinese New Year - Simple Ways to Partake in this Festivity







Clean Your House 2 Days Before The New Year

On the 28th day of the last month in the Lunar Calendar, families dedicate this day to clean the entire house to welcome the New Year. This includes sweeping, mopping, washing, getting rid of old and unused things to represent a fresh start. It's also important to remember to get this chore done before the New Year. Because doing so during the first 5 days of the Spring Festival is believed to drive fortunes and luck away.

Shop For New Wardrobe

Another great thing to do in anticipation of the Chinese New Year! You have a legit reason to shop for new wardrobe! Since the New Year means starting fresh, families buy new shoes and new clothes to wear on the New Year. Some even get a haircut too. That way, when you visit relatives and friends during the Spring Festival for red packets, you'd look sharp.

Hope everyone has a prosperous New Year! Gong Hey Fat Choy!

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Hello, my name is Lorita. This is a journal of my personal style, travel adventures, food excursions, recipe experiments, DIY tutorials and every little thing in life.


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