新年快乐 (xīn nián kuài lè)!
The most important Chinese holiday of the year is coming right up, and what better way to celebrate it than with these time-honored traditions. Check out all the fun and important things you can do on this auspicious day here:
1. Put Up CNY Decorations
The Christmas season is over, so it’s time to put down that Christmas tree! Now that Chinese New Year is getting closer, some other festive decorations are in order.
According to tradition, the color red attracts good fortune, vitality, and blessings, so be sure to hang up plenty of red lanterns, spring couplets, and paper cuttings! Aside from this, rabbit-themed decorations may also be used to properly welcome the new lunar year since 2023 is the Year of the Water Rabbit.
2. Enjoy a Chinese New Year Feast
Chinese New Year is undoubtedly a time for family and loved ones to gather, and there is nothing everyone would love to do more than to catch up and have a delicious meal. A typical reunion dinner, of course, comes with its own traditional set of dishes to bring in some good fortune to the family.
Dumplings, for example, are a CNY mainstay because of their ingot-like appearance. Since they look like the currency used in ancient China, they are often used to symbolize wealth. Other lucky foods that bring in luxury and good luck are oranges and spring rolls, which are popular due to their golden yellow color.
3. Offer Sacrifices to Your Ancestors
Chinese New Year is a time for family, and this, of course, includes our loved ones who have passed away. Although most households typically visit the graves of their ancestors a day before Chinese New Year, others honor their deceased loved ones by preparing joss sticks and food for their shrines at home. Some families also place extra plates and glasses on the dinner table to include the departed in their merry celebrations.
4. Giving Angpao to Kids
One of the most popular Chinese New Year greetings that children say is 恭喜发财， 红包拿来 (gōng xǐ fā cái, hóngbāo ná lái)! Translation: Wishing you prosperity, please give me a red envelope!
Although giving out angpao is now a beloved tradition that provides kids with much joy, the act once started as a practice to ward off the demon Sui, who was said to terrorize children during the evening before Chinese New Year. Since the fear that the children would have for the beast would bring them insanity-causing fever, parents started to pray to the deities for protection. Taking pity on the humans, the gods answered their prayers.
According to myths, a family once provided their child with eight coins to play with and kept them in a red envelope underneath the child’s pillow when he slept. The gods then used this opportunity to send and disguise their guards as coins, protecting the child and scaring away the demon Sui during the night.
5. Watching the Fireworks
Is it really Chinese New Year if there are no fireworks echoing throughout the night?
Interestingly enough, this CNY tradition began as a practice to ward off the demon Nian, who would emerge the night before the lunar new year to devour humans. In order to scare the monster away, one old man decided to wear red clothing, stick red paper to doors, light up candles indoors, and burn bamboo. Since bamboo burns with loud crackling sounds, the demon Nian was scared away. The old man’s advice was then passed down from generation to generation, becoming the time-honored tradition that we now have today.
Want to know more about what you should and shouldn’t do during Chinese New Year? Learn more with our list now!