Happy Chinese New Year!

Today is Chinese New Year, which is a big celebration for my family. We have lived in the UK since I was two years old but always celebrated our Chinese heritage, which I’m so pleased about. Now I have a family, I am hoping I can pass on the traditions too. As the New Year approached, I decided to chat to my Mum a little more about the history behind it and thought I’d share what she told me as much of it I hadn’t known before.

Chinese New Year graphic

The Background

Chinese New Year is a celebration at the start of Spring. China is such an agricultural country, and it is traditionally the start of the year when the crops start to grow and the weather is getting better. As a lot of people know, the Chinese have a lunar calendar which follows the movement of the moon. It does not have 31 days but 29 days each month (30 days if it is a leap year). Chinese believe that we all belong to one animal so the zodiac is made up of 12 animals and each year is aligned to one of the 12 animals.

Preparations for New Year

As my Mum tells me, usually the house is fully spring cleaned to prepare for Chinese New Year celebrations. I’m not sure where I got my messy gene from as I hardly ever spring clean! The tradition tells us that one week before Chinese New Year, the God of the Kitchen is supposed to report the the God of the Heavens that each house is a clean place to live…so there’s the incentive! Aside from this, there is also a lot of traditional food to make, presents to wrap for all the family, as there is always lots of family coming to stay.

Traditions

Chinese New Year is a 15 day celebration, it ends on the 15th day of the Chinese year and the Lantern Festival marks the end of the celebrations. I remember this festival vividly as we would always attend one in our home town. In China, traditional businesses such as factories close for two weeks and everyone takes a holiday during this time and it is a time to spend with family.

Unusually, Chinese New Year Eve is the big celebration. The houses are often full of flowers, as they are a symbol for wealth and prosperity for the year ahead. There would also be fireworks to celebrate much like our New Year’s Eve celebration! The most important tradition though is to have new outfit and new shoes for the occasion. My sister and I would always dress in a ‘cheong-sam’ (a traditional Chinese dress made of silk) and my Mum explains that usually you would have your hair cut too.

Picture of sister at Chinese New Year

Superstitions

I just had to ask my Mum about superstitions as we have never talked about it before but I always wondered if there are any surrounding Chinese New Year. She tells me that the first two days of the celebration are typically for visiting your family. But on the third day, the superstition is that if you are with family, you will end up arguing! Well, that’s possibly inevitable after two solid days together… So on that day, everyone goes to the temple to get their fortunes read. Then on the sixth day of the festival, the shops start to open again and life starts to resume as normal again.

One important thing that I’m not sure is a superstition or just an amazing tradition, is to give a red envelope with money in as a present. This is something that’s been with me my whole life: red is good luck and this symbolising good fortune for the year ahead. In fact, when I was a bridesmaid at my sister’s wedding, I wore a red dress for good luck, to keep to that tradition.

Did you celebrate Chinese New Year where you are? 

31 Comments

  1. January 31, 2017 / 5:02 pm

    How wonderful to have this heritage. My daughter has been absolutely loving learning about China at school, she’s even tried Chinese food! unheard of!
    #dreamteam
    melissa recently posted…The family nameMy Profile

  2. January 31, 2017 / 5:27 pm

    I love understanding more about the history and traditions behind Chinese New Year. Happy New Year to you and your family lovely. Thank you for hosting #DreamTeam with me xx
    Rhyming with Wine recently posted…#DreamTeam Linky Week 40My Profile

  3. January 31, 2017 / 6:03 pm

    What a fun thing to do with your family! I didn’t really know a lot about this tradition. Thank you!
    #dreamteam
    Barrie Bismark recently posted…Put On Your Shoes!My Profile

  4. January 31, 2017 / 6:27 pm

    Happy Chinese New Year I loved the superstitions. #dreamteam

  5. January 31, 2017 / 7:14 pm

    Hi Bridget

    I remember the first time I saw Chinese new year celebrations a few years back when all the staff in the Chinese take way across the road came out with a massive dragon on sticks and ran around. It was pretty weird until I figured out what day it was.

  6. January 31, 2017 / 7:37 pm

    What an interesting read, I love reading about other people’s beliefs and traditions! I had no idea the celebrations lasted so long!

    #DreamTeam
    The Tale of Mummyhood recently posted…Love the Life You LiveMy Profile

  7. January 31, 2017 / 8:22 pm

    Such a beautiful read – and picture! It was nice to find a little more about chinese new year, although one major question…when is it?! I’ve seen a few social media posts about it but none pinpoint a date – maybe the 15 day thing explains it?
    Thanks for hosting #dreamteam
    MMT recently posted…[After school] clubbingMy Profile

  8. January 31, 2017 / 8:24 pm

    My daughter has been learning about Chinese New Year in reception. She made the red envelope and in it was two (chocolate) gold coins. She gave it to me at the end of school, really proud and telling me that red means good luck. Needless to say I didn’t get to eat the chocolate 😉 x
    #DreamTeam
    Helen @Talking_Mums recently posted…Recipe: Chicken curryMy Profile

  9. January 31, 2017 / 9:20 pm

    Nice post! I work in a business where we have a lot of Chinese customers, so it’s interesting to find out more about where they disappear to this time of year. #dreamteam
    Stephanie recently posted…What I’m Reading This Month: Work SmarterMy Profile

  10. January 31, 2017 / 11:18 pm

    Ohmygoodness, I can only imagine how much you looked forward to your pretty silk dress every year! So, so cute. Happy Chinese New Year to you! #DreamTeam

  11. February 1, 2017 / 8:26 am

    Happy New Year. May it be a wonderful year! #dreamteam

  12. February 1, 2017 / 8:48 am

    I never knew much about the Chinese New Year, except that (some part of ) it falls on January 27th. I only know that because it’s my mom’s birthday and she gets Chinese food for dinner every year but there will only be one Chinese restaurant open (they take turns, which one will be open each year) because it’s their New Year. It’s neat to hear how it’s celebrated!
    Jaclyn Bree recently posted…How to Make a Customized Clothing PatchMy Profile

  13. February 1, 2017 / 2:36 pm

    Happy New Year! I didn’t know about the flowers! How lovely you wore a red bridesmaid dress too. #DreamTeam
    An Imperfect Mum recently posted…January RoundupMy Profile

  14. February 1, 2017 / 3:41 pm

    Happy Chinese New Year. It’s really interesting to find out that red is a symbol of luck, as I’m sure people sometimes view it as bad especially when it comes to weddings. Or maybe that’s just my family. I caused outrage once when I wanted to wear red, I was told by my mum no way as it’s a sign of bad luck for the bride! #dreamteam
    Ky recently posted…10 Ways I Am #RockingMotherhoodMy Profile

  15. February 1, 2017 / 6:35 pm

    Oh I loved this post, so interesting to read about all of the traditions and meanings of Chinese new year. We didn’t celebrate, although the girls did activities and food tasting at school and nursery which is fab! #dreamteam
    five little doves recently posted…Getting crafty with Chalkola – review & giveawayMy Profile

  16. February 1, 2017 / 10:14 pm

    Aw this is lovely! Even with Dad being in Hong Kong I still don’t know a huge amount about the history behind it. He sent a message to say Happy Chinese New year and this popped up so it was great timing 🙂 ! I also like the Moon Festival (although I feel terrible that I don’t think that’s what it’s called, maybe mid-autumn festival – I just love the Moon Cakes!!!!!) It’s so nice your passing on the traditions to your family too! #DreamTeam x
    Emma recently posted…#RockingMotherhoodMy Profile

  17. February 2, 2017 / 8:19 am

    Gong Xi FA Choi I love learning about new cultures and traditions, thankyou for sharing. #dreamteam

  18. February 2, 2017 / 10:56 am

    I loved this, I find other cultures and traditions to my own so fascinating, great read. #dreamteam

  19. February 2, 2017 / 11:54 am

    Interesting post! I knew about red, but I didn’t know all of this. Definitely didn’t know about the day 3 superstition! #DreamTeam

  20. February 2, 2017 / 8:40 pm

    We aren’t Chinese so don’t celebrate but love the food and I know of the story linked to assigning the animals. Having my birthday in January has also made me wonder whether I’m assigned the rat or the pig. Which do you think I belong to? #DreamTeam

  21. February 5, 2017 / 10:33 am

    Love this, I didn’t know anything about Chinese new year so it’s nice to learn something new xx #dreamteam

  22. February 7, 2017 / 7:50 am

    Such a lovely tradition and I didn’t know a lot of that even though I have a close friend who’s from Hong Kong! happy Chinese New Year xx #DreamTeam
    Susie at This Is Me Now recently posted…Why I’m rocking motherhoodMy Profile

  23. Lauren
    February 14, 2017 / 1:07 pm

    This is so cool!! -And adorable photo✨!!

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