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How to Celebrate Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year, is one of the most significant holidays in China as well as Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand that occurs between January and February (this year falls on January 31st). The festivities last for over two weeks and are accompanied by numerous interesting traditions and superstitions. Let’s get familiar with some of them or the ins and outs of this great festival, and how to celebrate Chinese New Year!

Preparing To Celebrate Chinese New Year

Preparations for Lunar New Year begin about a week in advance. People start making festive food at good time because traditionally, it’s not allowed to cook during the first five days of the New Year, and all sharp utensils like knives or scissors are put away as they can cut away good luck. A week prior to the celebration is also a time to buy gifts for Chinese New Year and prepare decorations. But the most important step in getting ready for New Year celebrations is cleaning the house, which is believed to sweep away bad luck.

After the cleaning, people start decorating the house to welcome the New Year. Most of the decorations are red color, symbolizing good fortune in Chinese culture. The most popular New Year decorations include lanterns, upside down fu, dui lian, and the number “8,” which rhymes with the word ‘wealth’ and brings good luck. Other traditions include placing flowers, symbols of rebirth and new growth, and mandarins, fruits of happiness, all around the house.

Celebrate Chinese New Year: New Year’s Meal

On New Year’s Eve, Chinese families traditionally gather for a festive meal and stay up late in order to welcome the New Year. Right at midnight, people launch loud, banging fireworks to celebrate the coming of the New Year and scare away the evil spirits.

Many of the foods served during Chinese New Year have symbolic meaning attached to them. For example, oranges and melons are popular because their gold color suggests wealth. Dumplings resemble ancient gold and silver ingots and serve as a symbol of riches. Hard-boiled eggs, fish and chicken are all associated with prosperity. Long noodles represent longevity, and the Chinese eat them whole, as cutting them up might lead to a short life. Since red is also so much associated with the New Year, red foods and fruit often appear on festive tables during this time of year.

how to celebrate chinese new year - meal prep

The first day of the New Year is generally a quiet day in China. The cooking and cleaning have already been done, and most people stay at home or visit friends and relatives. When out visiting, many Chinese bring the hosts small Lunar New Year gifts, like sweets, flowers and red envelopes.

Prosperous Gifts for Chinese New Year

Since Chinese New Year is a popular time for gift-giving, another common tradition is to give special red envelopes with “lucky money.” Usually, such gifts are given by adults, especially married couples, to young children and single people to bring good luck, health, and longevity.

The money given in an envelope can be a token amount, such as a few dollars or a more substantial gift, and it has symbolic and monetary value. For example, the amount should be an even number, and the numbers 8 and 88 are considered especially lucky because the word “eight” in Chinese sounds like the word “prosperity.”

Other popular gifts for Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year include:

Tangerines or Oranges: These fruits are commonly exchanged during Chinese New Year, representing wealth and good fortune.
Dried Fruits and Nuts: A symbol of a bountiful harvest and prosperity, these make for thoughtful and auspicious gifts.
Traditional Chinese Tea: High-quality teas like oolong or green tea are appreciated for their cultural significance and health benefits.
Decorative Items: Gift decorative items like Chinese lanterns, couplets, or other traditional ornaments to enhance the festive atmosphere.
Sweet Treats: Share candies, chocolates, or traditional Chinese New Year sweets to sweeten the celebrations.
Traditional Clothing or Accessories: Consider gifting items like a traditional Qipao dress or accessories like jade jewelry for a touch of cultural elegance.
Gift Baskets with Assorted Goodies: Create a gift basket with a variety of treats and snacks symbolizing good fortune and happiness.
Tea Sets or Porcelain: Elegant tea sets or fine porcelain items make for sophisticated and lasting gifts.
Festive Plants: Blooming flowers like orchids or pussy willows are considered symbols of growth, prosperity, and good fortune.

Wrapping Up How To Celebrate Chinese New Year

In concluding our exploration of Chinese New Year celebrations, we find ourselves immersed in a tapestry of traditions, flavors, and heartfelt connections. As the vibrant colors of dragon dances fade and the echoes of firecrackers subside, what lingers is the warmth of family, the shared laughter around the reunion dinner, and the hope encapsulated in red envelopes. Whether you embrace age-old customs or infuse modern twists into your festivities, the essence remains the same – a celebration of renewal, good fortune, and the enduring ties that bind us together.

Send Lunar New Year gifts worldwide to everyone, from family members to business associates. Check out the newest gift catalog at and wish someone special a New Year full of fun, joy, and prosperity! Or check out more Lunar New Year tips by reading our blog about Rooster Lunar New Year.