A Guide to Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year

If you’re keen as a bean to join in on the Chinese New Year celebrations that a third of the world is celebrating, but have no idea how to, we’ve got your back with an insight into our favourite time of the year.

When to party

Unlike the Gregorian calendar, where December 31st is always the last day of the year, the date of the Chinese New Year varies. It is determined by the Chinese lunar calendar and always falls between January 21 and February 20. So the date changes every year (confusing we know!). The festivities last 15 days – from the new moon to the full moon - so really that's two weeks of celebrating, visiting friends and family and fabulous feasting. Can you keep up?

Where to party

About one third of the world celebrates Chinese New Year, as the holiday is also observed in Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia and Vietnam. Chinese New Year is the busiest holiday period in the world, with billions of people traveling back home to spend the holidays with their family.

What animal to honour

Every year in the Chinese calendar is represented by one of the 12 zodiac animals. This year it's the year of the Tiger. Whatever year you were born in, you are said to have some of that zodiac animal’s characteristics.

The animals are pulled from the ancient tale The Legend of the Great Race where the Jade Emperor declared that the first 12 animals to finish the race would have a calendar year named after them. During the race, the animals had to swim across a river, and even though the rat couldn't swim, he used his wits to convince the friendly ox to let him ride on his back.

The Dragon tops the list as #1 as when the Emperor asked why he was so late, Dragon said that on the way, he saw a village suffering from drought. He had to stop and create rain for them. 

So it's Dragon #1, Rat #2 and Ox #3 as they top 3 most successful signs. What to know your Chinese Zodiac? Head here and look for your birthdate.

What to do to get ready

Clean your home and get a haircut before New Year’s Day. Yep you heard it right!

By cleaning your house you sweep away bad luck and invite good fortune; a new haircut may stop evil spirits from recognising you and following you into the new year.

But plan your hair-related activities wisely because washing your hair on New Year’s Day will flush all the good luck down the drain. The same goes for having debt, asking for a loan or being too close to scissors – all of them, including crying, are bad omens.

What to wear

Red is a very lucky colour that stops misfortune in its tracks, so your holiday wardrobe should include lots of red clothes – including red underwear.

In Chinese culture, wearing black and white is the biggest no-no on Chinese New Year. Chinese people traditionally dress in black and white on occasions such as funerals and mourning ceremonies, so wearing these colours can be seen to symbolise death and misfortune #dontdoit

What to say

“Happy New Year” in Chinese is “Xīnnián kuàilè” 新年快乐 (pronounced sshin-nyen kwhy-luh).

Another common greeting used is Gong Xi Fa Cai, pronounced gong-zee-fah-tsai. This is a common wishing of prosperity, literally translating to "wishing you enlarge your wealth."

What to eat

Since the festivities last 15 days (holy moly that's a whole lot of eating) there are plenty of chances to gather at the dining table. Eight is the lucky number in Chinese culture, so a lot of the meals consist of eight courses. We advise fasting during the day to indulge at night.

Uncut noodles and long beans represent longevity while tangerines and pomelos bring wealth and luck. Sweet boiled rice balls filled with sweet fillings such as peanuts or red bean are usually eaten on the 15th day of the celebrations and represent togetherness.

And if you want to attract prosperity, make sure you eat loads of dumplings: They look like coins and may help you make more money in the new year #winning Try our Sambal with your dumplings for a spicy dipping sauce. Toss through our Chilli Jam or Apple Chilli to spice up your stirfries this Chinese New year.

What to look forward to 

The lantern festival and the dragon and lion dances mark the end of the festivities and are beautiful spectacles to witness: Dragons and lions dance in parades alongside loud drums and cymbals to scare away evil, and bring good luck, wisdom and a long life. 

Last but not least, elaborate fireworks make sure every last evil spirit has been scared away.

We hope you've taken away a few notes on why we love Chinese New Year so much. 

Wishing you and your families a very happy Chinese New Year filled with good health, prosperity and lots of love. 


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