Chinese New Year Food, Festivities, and Traditions

Happy Chinese New Year (or Happy Lunar New Year)! 新年快樂! 恭喜發財!

Chinese New Year is probably one of my favorite holidays during the year! It’s a time of wishing prosperity and good luck & fortune to those around you, spending time with family, and of course – for those who are not yet married – receiving 紅包 (hong bao) or red envelopes filled with money.

Chinese New Year lasts for a month, but in my family, we celebrate it for 15 days. As of today, we’re in the 2nd week of the Lunar New Year. During this time, we eat plenty of good food ranging from little snacks like little turnip cakes and 湯圓 (tang yuan) which are little sweet glutinous rice balls to elaborate 8 – 12 course family style dishes. Usually, when visiting someone’s house, the host will have a big red round or flower shape container with different compartments filled with an assortment of candy and nuts. In my house, we keep it less traditional and simply use a three-tiered glass plates to hold these goodies.

During Chinese New Year, it is tradition to decorate the house with red decorations since red is seen as a lucky color. Red Chinese Lanterns are hung around the house and in the streets. In my house, we are a bit less traditional and we simply have huge red flowers (gladiolus) as the centerpiece on our dining room table. We also will have a plate of candy specifically Ferraro Rocher chocolates, pistachios and oranges (or tangerines) throughout the house. Oranges and tangerines were common food symbols for wealth and good luck. It also meant abundance and happiness. It’s also custom to give oranges and candy (Ferraro Rocher in my family) when visiting family members and in exchange they will give you oranges and some sort of candy when you leave.

Now my favorite tradition is receiving 紅包 (hong bao) – usually when visiting a family members house! These red envelopes contain money and are given to younger family members who are not yet married. Once married, you then start giving out red envelopes. That said, some employers may give their employees red envelopes during this holiday to wish them luck and fortune in the new year. The red envelopes come in many beautiful design with gold lettering or cute cartoons and sometimes, it even comes in pink!

The festivities that take place outside are joyous, loud, and everyone from little children to grandparents will come out to celebrate as a community. Dancers perform lion dances at different stores and businesses in hopes to bring them good luck and prosperity in the new year. Some places will even hold a fireworks ceremony to scare away any bad luck and evil spirits that may be lingering in the new year.

Chinese New Year is an exuberant and fun holiday meant to bring families together to welcome in the new year together. I look forward to it every year and I wish every one of my readers a prosperous year filled with good luck and fortune!

**Please note: the traditions listed above are traditions in my family. Each family’s traditions may vary.

Xoxo, Chrissie Carly

Do you celebrate the Lunar New Year? What are some traditions you follow?

If you don’t celebrate the Lunar New Year, what’s your favorite holiday to celebrate?