Happy Chinese New year! Gong Xi Fat Cai

Guide to Chinese New Year tradition and Customs

Chinese New Year is one of the largest celebrations and usually runs for 15 days till Lantern festival. It is filled with traditions and customs, but mainly very family orientated and has a lot to do with bringing good luck and success for the rest of the year.

This day is one of my favourite as a child, as I am half Chinese, I’d always get those thick red packets from married relatives containing money. Don’t judge but who doesn’t like getting money as presents?! Especially a couple of months after Christmas…double presents ha!

And don’t forget to wish someone Happy Chinese New year in Mandarin, you say…

Gong Xi Fa Cai

Pronounced phonetically as “Kung See Fa Chai”. Gong Xi means congratulations and Fa Cai means to become wealthy or to make money. Traditionally it is good to say the whole sentence but you can also wish someone Gong Xi.

Below is an insight into the traditions and rituals for Chinese New Year including a few taboos!

Traditions and Rituals

Guide to Chinese New Year tradition and Customs

1. It’s all about the family

Chinese New Year is all about the family and/or being with your friends and loved ones if you are away from your immediate family. They would have ‘reunion dinners’ on Chinese New Year Eve which will be one of the most important dinner all year either at home or in a restaurant and normally have fish which represents prosperity.

2. The colour Red

To the Chinese, red represents good fortune, so you will notice that on the day itself, everyone will be wearing new clothes and in shades of red. It is also tradition to be giving out red envelopes, called Hongbao in mandarin, filled with money and typically given to children by married couples or employer to employees.  The sum is typically an even number and never the number four because it is considered as an unlucky number because it sounds like the Chinese word for death.

3. Fireworks

Fireworks are used to drive away the evil in China. Right after midnight on Chinese New Year’s Eve, fireworks are launched to celebrate the coming of the New Year as well as to drive away the evil. And who doesn’t like a bit of fireworks on a celebratory night eh!

4. Lucky food

There are certain foods that are eaten during this time, and each one has a symbolic meaning. Fish is important because it sounds like the surplus in Mandarin, and by eating fish will bring prosperity and good luck in the coming year.

I remember as a child, we use to have dumplings, noodles is also a must for long life and let’s not forget about Oranges – they are eaten and displayed around the house because they are particularly round and “golden” in colour, symbolising fullness and wealth.

 5.  Praying in a Temple

Going to the temple to pray during the festivity is almost a must, to thank the Gods for their protection and good health. It is also considered to be a particularly blessed activity which will lead to good fortune and a smooth year ahead.

Guide to Chinese New Year tradition and Customs


These are the basic list of things which the Chinese try not to do during this time as they see it as bad luck. Though understandably that nowadays there might be some who don’t believe in it but it is still practiced.

1. Washing hair

Hair must not be washed on the first day of the lunar year. In the Chinese language, the word hair has the same pronunciation and character as ‘fa’ in facai, which means ’to become wealthy’. Therefore, if you do wash your hair, it is seen as “washing one’s fortune away” in the beginning of the year.

2. Laundry

Don’t do laundry on the first and second day, because these two days are celebrated as the birthday of Shuishen (Water God). Good excuse as any to not do laundry!

3. Sweeping/Cleaning

This is important, if you sweep with a broom on this day then your wealth will be swept away too, and the same goes for cleaning. Therefore, spring cleaning starts few days leading up to New Year~!

4. Debt

Money should not be lent on New Year’s Day, and all debts have to be paid by New Year’s Eve. If someone who owes you money, do not go to his or her home to demand it. Anyone who does so it is said will be unlucky all the year.

5. Colour of clothes

Try to avoid wearing white or black clothes because these two colours are traditionally associated with mourning.

6. Gift giving

Clocks and scissors all have a bad meaning in Chinese culture. Basically, it’s like you are wanting the recipient to have a short life if I am not mistaken.

There are loads more, and everyone has their own tradition of what they do during this auspicious time.

More often than not, if you are single, you probably get questioned by your relatives regarding your love status, which is not surprising that in China, they have a rent a boyfriend/girlfriend service to get their family off their backs!

Regardless what they are, the main thing is to be happy and enjoy spending time with your loved ones and/or have lots of delicious food!

and finally your Chinese Horoscope

There are 12 zodiacs in the Chinese calendar  – Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. Within each zodiac, there are elements of fire, wood, water, and earth and it depends on the year which you are born.

Find out more about your Chinese horoscope here

And check to see what fortunes holds for you this year.

What’s your Chinese horoscope?

Courtney xx

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