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Celebrating Chinese New Year 2017

Written by MK Moore on Tuesday, 17 January 2017. Posted in Break Time!, Life in the +852

Celebrate Chinese New Year in style by eating auspicious food, giving out lai see, and doing everything considered lucky!

Celebrating Chinese New Year 2017

Get ready for another round of New Years festivities as the Year of the Fire Rooster officially begins on January 28th. Chinese New Year, or Lunar New Year, is one of the most significant and cherished holidays in Hong Kong… and as such, it’s celebrated in style for 15 days! It’s also considered a time for family and friends to get together, enjoy each other’s company, say goodbye to the old, and welcome the new. 


According to tradition, the proper way to welcome the New Year is to start fresh and “sweep out” the past and put it behind us. To get into the spirit, clean your home, pay your debts, and buy new clothes! Adorn your home with lucky red and gold decorations, gorgeous fresh flowers, and bowls of vibrant mandarins to usher in prosperity, fortune, wealth, and longevity. For extra good luck, ensure your mandarins are always in equal numbers and the leaves are intact! Visit the flower markets at Victoria Park or Mong Kok for a wide array of fresh flowers, plants and decorations for sale. 


The Myth behind Nian

Legend has it that a wild beast named Nian or “Year” appeared at the end of each year and raged havoc on villagers. When the villagers realized that Nian didn’t like loud noises or the colour red, they pasted red paper onto doorways, dressed in red garments, and lit firecrackers. The trick worked and Nian was never seen again. To honour the victory, people continue to wear red and light fireworks on New Year's eve.

Beginning with Chinese New Year’s eve on Friday 27th January, savour a traditional meal with “good fortune” dishes like spring rolls (“wealth”), shrimps (“joy”), noodles (“longevity”) and Tangyuan (sweet rice balls) that are synonymous with reunions. If you are feeling adventurous, try black moss (“wealth”), dried oysters (“good luck”) and pig’s trotters or crispy pork skin (“fortune”). Remember, Hong Kong’s restaurants will be bustling so make reservations in advance.


Additionally, wear red-coloured clothes as much as you can, as red represents happiness and good fortune. However, avoid wearing black, as it symbolises bad luck and death. And whenever you meet someone, remember to wish them a hearty “Kung hei fat choy!” It means Happy New Year or, more accurately, “we wish you wealth” and you’ll find faces light up when you use this simple greeting. 



Day One (Jan 28): Head to a temple to pray for good luck and have your fortunes told. In the evening, make your way to see the Night Parade in Tsim Sha Tsui and enjoy the floats, bands, and colourfully costumed dragon and lion dancers.


Day Two (Jan 29): Victoria Harbour will light up with a spectacular 20-minute fireworks show from 8pm. Grab the perfect harbour view from a building, restaurant or junk cruise to see a fantastic fireworks display scare away the evil spirits!


Day Three (Jan 30): Stay indoors and avoid visiting friends and family – it’s considered unlucky on this day!


Day Fifteen (Feb 11): The romantic Lantern Festival ends the New Year celebrations with a dizzying array of colourful lanterns in all shapes, sizes and designs. Tangyuan (sweet glutinous rice balls in soup), which resembles the shape of a round moon and symbolizes reunions, are consumed. 


15 Days of Chinese New Year: Find out how to celebrate each day


One head-scratching aspect of the Chinese New Year celebrations is the giving of red packets of money known as lai see. Traditionally, married people give lai see to children and younger unmarried adults within their circle of family and friends. You are also expected to give lai see to your apartment’s management staff, gardeners, and cleaners. Go to the bank for crisp, newly printed $20, $50, and $100 notes. 


Confused about how much to give? Check out our lai see etiquette guide!




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MK Moore

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