Celebrating Chinese New Year

Be inspired by our traditional top tips to celebrate Chinese New Year in style

Chinese New Year is the most traditional and superstitious festival in the Chinese calendar. This year’s festivities fall on 19 February and will celebrate the Year of the Goat. According to Chinese tradition people born in the Year of the Goat are mild mannered, shy and sympathetic. Celebrities born in the year of the goat include Kate Hudson, Bill Gates, Mick Jagger, Pixie Lott and Julia Roberts.


Chinese families always celebrate New Year together and they use a round table so that good food and conversation can be shared.

Once you have the family together, you can start to prepare your banquet. Key ingredients to include are:

Chicken for fortune

Fish for prosperity

Noodles for longevity (never cut noodles)

Duck as a symbol of fidelity

Vegetables for cleansing the system

Wontons to represent gold ingots (wealth)

Seaweed for wealth

Chinese families also hand out gifts of elaborately decorated red envelopes (Hongbao), filled with scrilla (money).

Use only one or two notes, to keep the value of the envelope hidden, and don’t hand out bad luck with anything that includes the number four – the unluckiest of all numbers. Instead stick to ones, fives and best of all, eights, as these are ‘beloved’ numbers.

Shooting off firecrackers on the eve of New Year is the Chinese way of sending out the old year and welcoming in the new. Don’t forget that on the stroke of midnight, every door and window in the house has to be open to allow the old year to leave.

Chinese New Year is steeped in superstition – here are just some of the other traditions that you could try:

  • The entire house should be cleaned before New Year’s Day. On the eve of Chinese New Year, all brooms, brushes, dusters and other cleaning equipment should be put away. Sweeping or dusting should not be done on New Year’s Day for fear that good fortune will be swept away.
  • If you cry on New Year’s Day, you will cry all through the year. Therefore, children are tolerated and are not disciplined even if they are mischievous.
  • On New Year’s Day, you are not supposed to wash your hair because it would mean you would have washed away good luck for the New Year.
  • It is considered unlucky to greet anyone in their bedroom so that is why everyone, even the sick, should get dressed and sit in the living room.
  • Do not use knives or scissors on New Year’s Day as this may cut off fortune.

While many Chinese people today may not believe in these dos and don’ts, these traditions and customs are still practiced. Most families say these traditions, whether believed or not, provide a link with the past and celebrate their cultural identity.

Courtesy of Ken Hom, kenhom.co.uk.

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