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Chinese New Year Traditions

January 21st, 2011 by

Just when everyone is slowly starting to get over the holiday fever, the world finds another reason to be merry once again and join the Chinese community in celebrating the year of the Metal Rabbit.

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Here are several rituals and customs that are associated with Chinese New Year observance.

“Spring” Cleaning

The main objective of a good “spring” clean for the New Year is to purify the house of bad vibes and misfortune. The extent of this ritual may vary from mopping the floors to painting an entire room. Once done, houses are adorned with Chinese New Year decorations like paper cut-outs and Chinese verses on wealth, happiness, and love.

People cleanse themselves by going to temple to pray and ask for the New Year to be filled with prosperity and peace. A lot of people buy new clothes for the occasion.

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The Colour Red

The colour red plays an integral part in Chinese traditions, especially during Chinese New Year. Decorations are in red, red envelopes with money are given away, goodies are packaged in bright red boxes and almost everyone wears red. Handmade red paper lanterns are hung in the windows of houses and even hotels. Chinese inscriptions that are written on sacred red scrolls are also prominently displayed.

Red is believed to protect against bad luck, given that it represents fire, and also signifies happiness. Conversely, white and black are avoided during Chinese New Year because of a strong association with mourning and grief.

Monetary Gifts

It is a common practice during Chinese New Year for the elderly and married couples to distribute red money envelopes together with blessings to children and even to single adults.  These envelopes are believed to bring good luck and a wonderful year ahead for the recipients.

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Welcoming the New Year with elaborate fireworks and the deafening sounds of firecrackers is also customary. The Chinese believe that these help drive away bad luck and evil spirits. Of course, given the phenomenal pyrotechnic spectacles in cities like Shanghai and Hong Kong, New Year’s fireworks are just plain fun.

Cultural Performances

No Chinese New Year celebraticom is ever complete without a Dragon and Lion Dance Performance. For one, it is considered one of the highlights of the celebration. At times, the popular dance is accompanied by other forms of dances and musical performances that make one spectacular show. Aside from being a great form of entertainment among the celebrants, the dance also helps in driving away evil spirits and spreading prosperity all around.

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Grand Feast

All the family members gather around a banquet table to partake in a grand feast on the eve of the Chinese New Year. Members who are unable to join the rest of the family are remembered by allocating an empty seat for the person at the dining table. Chinese dumplings made of glutinous rice and stuffed with different flavored pastes are customarily included.

As always, throngs of domestic and international travellers will crisscross China during the holiday season. Whether you’re headed to Macau, Xian, Beijing or Dalian, hotels in China book up fast for the New Year period (you’ve been duly warned).

Remember that amidst all the customs and traditions, Chinese New Year is another important occasion for the entire family to spend precious time together to recollect all the blessings and fond memories from the previous year. It is the perfect time to live life anew, set aside all grudges and above all, represents new beginning for everyone.


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