Chinese New Year for Beginners


– Chinese New Year is also called “Lunar New Year” because it is based on the lunisolar Chinese calendar.

– It is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Han Chinese populations such as Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand. (Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of mainland China.)

– The biggest event of any Chinese New Year’s Eve is the dinner every family will have. A dish consisting of fish is usually served but not eaten completely, as the Chinese phrase “may there be surpluses every year” sounds the same as “may there be fish every year.”

– Floral decorations are popular for the New Year and are available at new year markets. Thus malls and appartment buildings are richly decorated.

– The most common greeting in Cantonese (the language of Hong Kong)is Kung Hei Fat Choi which loosely means “Congratulations and be prosperous”.

– Traditionally, Red envelopes are distributed during the Chinese New Year’s celebrations. They usually contain money. The traditional custom is for elders to give to younger people. Here people exchange envelopes at work and also give some to the people who work for them. Even if you are not Chinese you are expected to give envelopes to the people around you.


9 thoughts on “Chinese New Year for Beginners

  1. One year we were having dinner in a Chinese restaurant just on the edge of London’s Chinatown on Chinese New Year and the dragon came in to gobble up the lettuce/cabbage and red envelope hanging from the doorway. Then the restaurant owner came and gathered up all the children to hug the dragon for luck – it was fantastic fun!

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