Note the 22nd of January down in your diary, it’s Chinese New Year and according to National Today the day the greatest number of fireworks go off globally - heads up, you may want to keep your pets inside. The 15 day festival, also known as Lunar New Year and Spring Festival, marks the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar and is celebrated by Asian communities all around the world. It’s a time of families coming together – officials estimate the number of trips over the holiday period will hit a whopping 2.1 billion, and for many is the most important day of the year.
Here's our fantastic team based in Shanghai, enjoying early celebrations.
Fancy learning more about Chinese New Year or getting involved? Here’s what you need to know.
What to cook on Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year food traditions are hugely symbolic and believed to bring luck and good fortune. Most of those celebrating will cook a steamed whole fish, traditionally served with its head and tail representing a good beginning and end in coming months, rice balls to symbolise family togetherness and longevity noodles which represent happiness and a long life.
Chinese New Year customs
Why people Marie Kondo the house
In the days leading up to celebrations, families scrub the house from top to bottom to rid it of any bad luck or misfortune that may be lingering from the past year. Which ends up being pretty practical too if you’re the one that’s hosting.
The gift of a red envelope
It’s very common for people to give the gift of a red envelope with money inside to symbolise good wishes and fortune for the year ahead. Traditionally they were given from members of the older generation to the young generation and the closer in the relationship the higher the amount. However, it’s the envelope itself that signifies good luck as opposed to what’s inside.
Traditional decorations and what they mean
You can expect to see a glorious sea of red if you’re visiting China during the festivities. Red lanterns are one of the most popular ways to signify celebrations and are strung up on trees, streetlights and doors to ward off bad luck.
One of the oldest traditions are couplets, which refers to, two complementary poetic lines written in calligraphy on red pieces of paper. These are pasted onto each side of doors to bring good luck. They often express people’s wishes for more abundance in the coming year.
Paper cutting is an important type of Chinese folk art. People spend hours meticulously cutting out red paper into shapes - often animals from the Chinese zodiac - to decorate windows during the festival.
Throw a Chinese New Year’s celebration
It’s no secret that red is a lucky and auspicious colour in Chinese culture, which is why it features heavily throughout Chinese New Year. Our red card honeycombs are perfect for hanging around the room or you could string a single one on the front door to greet your guests. For a joyful and sophisticated table setting, create a wonderful ambience with low level lighting – candles lit in our red glass candlesticks will do the trick, while twinkly lights will add a little sparkle. Can’t be bothered to cook? Deliveroo your food in and serve on our elegant gold plates, it’s almost hard to believe they’re made of paper.
The Year of the Rabbit
Pic credit: Readers Digest
The Chinese zodiac is a repeating cycle of 12 years, with each year being represented by a different animal and its attributes. But who invented it? The myth goes that one of the most important gods in traditional Chinese religion, the Jade Emperor invited all the animals in the world to take part in a race and only twelve turned up. As a reward for taking part, The Emperor named a year in the zodiac after each animal. Where they came in the race determined the order in which they were placed. We’re a bit perplexed at how the rat beat the tiger too. In 2023 we ring in the year of the rabbit. It’s believed the animal associated with the year you were born reveals a lot about your personality.
Discover your zodiac sign and what it says about you here: https://www.rd.com/article/what-is-my-chinese-zodiac-sign/