Chinese New Year Traditions

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Chinese new year food, gastronomy
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Chinese New Year, traditions; we will see what its characteristics are, how it is celebrated, what is the traditional food or gastronomy, the decoration, the festivities, the gifts, the cabal, taboos, the famous red envelope, the clothing and the fireworks, in short , a very complete article about it.


Due to their resemblance to the sun, oranges and lemons (limes and tangerines too) play a prominent role for the Chinese New Year, they represent, signify, symbolize prosperity. But they are also due to their refreshing clean smell. Citrus fruits ward off bad luck in feng shui.

Put 9 lemons or oranges on a plate on the dining room table on the first day of the year as a way to summon all the positive energy in life. They are also used to improve luck in any day or circumstance. They work the same way in the kitchen or in the living room.

The fruits are usually arranged in beautiful baskets, both decorative and tasting elements. The fruit of these festivities is the clementine, which in Chinese is the namesake of “happy event”. We offer them because they bring good luck, and we also eat peaches, a symbol of longevity.

Oranges, kumquats, tangerines, and grapefruits are common Chinese New Year gifts because they are believed to bring good luck and happiness. The Chinese words for “orange” and “tangerine” closely resemble the words for “luck” and “wealth.” . The golden color of these fruits also symbolizes prosperity.



The New Year’s meal is called “Spring Banquet” (chun jiu) or “Banquet of the gods of fortune” (cai shen jiu) – quite a program! It begins on the night of the last day of the year and ends at the dawn of the new year. Since it is the food that inaugurates a new period, it symbolizes all the meals to come. That is why he must be particularly successful, friendly and wealthy. If there are leftovers, all the better, it indicates future prosperity! So there is a lot of food, fruit and sweets on the table and, most importantly, most of the food has a special meaning.


It is always first meat (beef or pork) and fish or seafood, because what comes from the sea or water is a sign of wealth (which says fish said river, so ordinary, running water etc; in addition to the word “fish “and the word” surplus “are pronounced the same way in Chinese). In some families, it is even sometimes on purpose not to finish their fish to make the fish even more obvious. Idea of profusion! What good news for little appetites who can no longer eat Christmas meals …

These dishes are accompanied by noodles (by their length, they indicate longevity), rice, dates, beans or bamboo (symbol of youth, because it is always green).

One of the traditional dishes is the Festive Fondue made with shrimp and fish balls, scallops, squid egg whites, surimi sticks and vegetable broth. Simply chop up all the seafood and prepare the broth with soybean paste, mushrooms, and bok choy or other vegetables of your choice. Then each guest dips their piece of fish or shellfish for a few moments in the hot broth!

The “hot pot” or Chinese fondue

It is the best party dish, especially if the weather is cold. It is a broth that is traditionally served in a large pot placed in the center of the table and in which diners must soak and cook a multitude of ingredients (meats, seafood, vegetables) that can vary from one region to another. In the northern part near Inner Mongolia, the Chinese prefer lamb. Sichuan fondue is very special because it can be extremely spicy with Sichuan pepper.

Boiled meatballs

They are an essential tradition, especially in North China. Usually stuffed with meat, in parts of eastern China it is customary to hide a coin in one of the dumplings so that whoever lands on it may have good luck. They are a symbol of family reunion and happiness, but also of good fortune with their shape reminiscent of traditional Chinese gold bars.


After the dishes, comes the soup, sweet or salty. Soups are rarely mixed and instead come in the form of broths filled with meatballs or fish, noodles or vermicelli, but also seaweed, bamboo shoots, soybeans, mushrooms, or fruits.

Sweet Goji Berry Soup

You will need 200 g of Goji berries (very rich in antioxidants), 85 g of dry stoneless longan (quite sweet fruit that looks like lychee), 450 g of white sugar and 180 g of red dates.

Rinse the dates and berries and then put them with the longans in a saucepan filled with boiling water. Then add the sugar and simmer for twenty minutes.

Lastly, we serve lots of fruits and sweets. At the end of the meal, we bring sweets or cakes that should bring good luck. They are traditionally 6 or 8 in number and since each represents future happiness, they are a way of sending wishes to your guests. Then you find on the table a lot of little things to nibble on: lotus roots (which symbolize wealth), melon seeds (which indicate reunion), ginger or candied fruit, etc.

The end of the meal is also the time for the famous “Fortune Cookies”, the “Lucky Cakes”, invented by the Americans but immediately used in Chinese restaurants that traditionally do not serve desserts. These dry and light cakes contain a little word, a lucky proverb or a positive phrase.


We tried jiaozi or jiazi or yuan bao. In short, because they evoke old ingots, they symbolize wealth. The more you eat, the better (yes, for once we recommend that you eat). And for you the millions!

Imperial rolls or spring rolls

The famous Vietnamese spring rolls differ a bit in China. But regardless of their country of origin, they symbolize wealth, that’s why we don’t deprive ourselves of them. Also, made at home, it will surprise more than one and is absolutely delicious.

Whole fish for chinese new year

At any festive meal, you must have a fish dish. Yù is a word that has the same sound that means fish or abundance. So in order not to miss anything during the year of the dog, we cook the fish and the tradition is that we bring it whole to the table.

In ancient China, being able to eat fish during the New Year meant that you were safe from starvation for the rest of the year.

Chunjie noodles

“Chunjie” is the Chinese word transcribed in Latin letters and it means spring festival, another name for the Chinese New Year. To celebrate this new cycle, many countries have a tradition of cooking stir-fry noodles … particularly long. Easy and quick to prepare, the difficulty here lies in the art of eating them, because it is not convenient to cut them. These noodles symbolize longevity, don’t laugh at that! Long live you!

Salad and vegetables

Did you think you were escaping from the vegetation? Well no, but it’s for a good cause! By eating some salad or vegetables, you will promote wealth and prosperity. Frankly worth it!


Vegetables are a constant feature of a Chinese meal. But long leafy greens have a special place during the New Year’s Eve meal. They symbolize in the first place the family unit that must not or cannot be broken. They also allow you to symbolically wish your parents a long life.

Asian New Years shrimp.

Like? Better ! Shrimp symbolize joy and happiness (by homophony of the Cantonese Chinese word). So fried ginger soy shrimp is a great recipe to make you even happier! A shrimp dish generally represents happiness and well-being. Wishing a good quality of life for others seems essential in Chinese culture. It is good to have a long life, but it is even better to live a long and healthy life.

The duck

Duck is a poultry that is often used in Asian cuisine. To celebrate the Chinese New Year, it is presented in its entirety on the table. It symbolizes health and fertility. And that, the grandmother is formal, health is important!


I feel like you’re telling yourself this will do a lot for just one meal! Do it as often with an Asian meal, bring all the dishes to share, and serve yourself in very reasonable amounts. Do not forget to leave some: think of the small plate to offer in front of the altar of the ancestors.

So when it comes to chicken, again, it’s a matter of bringing it to the table whole and then slicing it up. It symbolizes the family entity and will bode well for the family.

Glutinous rice

Served as an accompaniment to savory dishes, but also in a sweet version, glutinous rice is used in particular to compose desserts that are highly appreciated by Vietnamese, Thais, etc., but we also serve glutinous rice cakes in the shape of balls, because the cake is called gao , which also means to grow. Put this lunar new year under the sign of growth!

Sticky rice cakes or “Niangao”

They are another important tradition for the Chinese. During dinner the day before, the fact of offering these sweets on the table is a sign of prosperity for the new year, as well as an increase in the standard of living.

Gastronomy summary

The champions of the party are undoubtedly the bites, those that are pecked with the fingertips or with chopsticks on a salad leaf. The essential spring rolls are garnished with chicken, mushrooms, and rice noodles, the steamed bites focus on beef and curry, while the fritters top the shrimp near the Chinese dumplings. Another option for those who are late? The cold version with shrimp spring rolls!

Chinese cuisine knows how to cook meat, and not least. The New Year is the perfect opportunity to explore the typical dishes, starting with the famous Peking Duck accompanied by its pancakes! Behind him ? Endless flavors with a chicken with black mushrooms and cashews, a General Tsao chicken, a bittersweet pork stir-fry or the famous pork with spicy caramel, for those who do not prefer Chinese fondue with beef and veal.

It only remains to reject the inevitable Chinese noodles and its shrimp sautéed with garlic and cilantro or the so typical homemade Cantonese rice, as a main dish or as a simple side dish. Lighter, but just as gourmet? The fragrant soups celebrate the arrival of the Chinese New Year with a classic Chinese dumpling soup or its cousin, Chinese black mushrooms and tofu soup. Happy Chinese New Year!

Prepare the party and decorate your house

The end of the year parties are prepared several days in advance and begin with the decoration of the house. Outside, we decorated the windows with cut paper and pasted inscriptions on red paper above and to the sides of the front door as a sign of happiness and prosperity. On the door is placed the Chinese character “fu” which means “luck / happiness / prosperity” expressing the wish for a peaceful year.

The event is also an opportunity for the Chinese to do a thorough cleaning of their interior and their clothes, but also to buy gifts for their loved ones. The night before there is a ceremony in memory of the ancestors and a dinner that brings the whole family together.

The menu for this great meal differs from region to region, ravioli in the north and a cake made with glutinous rice flour in the south, but it is always an opportunity for members of the same family to get together, some traveling several hundred. of kilometers to return. to their home region during the celebrations. It should also be noted that since 1949, the government has introduced three days off for Chinese people to spend holidays with their families.

Parades and cultural celebrations

For several days, China is the scene of a host of festive celebrations and events that draw huge crowds. One of the most famous is the lion dance, also known as the “lion’s lantern”. Dressed in a lion costume, the dancers reproduce the gestures of the feline, a symbol of strength and wisdom, to the rhythm of the beats of drums, cymbals and gong. A dance that we hope will bring good luck and prosperity.

Dragon lantern dances, often performed by martial arts specialists, are also held during the Spring Festival. Festivities that end 15 days after the first effective day of the New Year with the Lantern Festival, a spectacular night party where light reigns!

Chinese new year celebration
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Chinese new year traditions

What are the customs?

Although the event has a specific start date, it is prepared in advance. Several days before the start of the festivities, it is customary for the inhabitants to clean their houses to ward off bad spells. During the festivities, family meals are held, accompanied by a religious ceremony in homage to the ancestors. The atmosphere is in full swing with the famous “Dragon Dance”, animated by dozens of costumed dancers several dozen meters long.

At the end of these two weeks of celebration, the Lantern Festival lights up the cities. Paper lanterns are hung from houses on the streets. One last family meal brings the festivities to an end.

What is the origin of this tradition?

The Chinese New Year has been celebrated for centuries. It has its origin in legendary tales, including one in particular. The story tells of the existence of a terrible demon, called Nian shóu, who attacked and devoured the citizens on the night of the first day of the year. The latter feared light, noise, and the color red. To keep it out, the inhabitants lit torches and set off fireworks. Means of defense that have become a tradition today.

Chinese new year traditions
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Chinese new year traditions

Related to Buddhism?

The twelve animals that are part of the Chinese zodiac are drawn from a legend. The story goes that on the occasion of the New Year, Buddha invited the animals from his kingdom. Twelve showed up. In gratitude, he will give each of them a year in which they will be celebrated.

When is

Since the Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar, the date of the Chinese New Year in the Gregorian calendar varies from year to year, but is always between January 21 and February 19, during the second new moon since the solstice. winter when the sun is in the sign of Aquarius.

It is, like all the beginnings of the Chinese lunar months, the first day of the new moon. By convention, the astronomical alignment pointing to the new moon is determined at the Purple Mountain Observatory in Nanjing.

Practices and names

The New Year is officially celebrated in mainland China (seven days off) and Taiwan (at least five days), Hong Kong and Macao (three days), as well as in some Asian countries where the influence of Chinese culture is great, or those whose population includes a strong minority of ethnic Chinese:

Singapore and Malaysia (two days), Philippines (three days), Brunei and Indonesia (one day), Thailand, Vietnam (Tet holidays, three days, one day difference from China every 22 or 23 years to make up for the time difference between Beijing and Hanoi), Korea (Seollal festival, Korean: 설날, three days).

The New Year holidays, which can be extended to a weekend or a bridge, are a period of intense migration, called Chunyun, as many are trying to join their families, sometimes from abroad: the traffic jams on the roads and congestion at stations and airports is the rule.

Traditional celebrations

The celebrations, customs and taboos of the Spring Festival vary in detail according to the region or time. The general practice is that we strive to start on a new basis after getting rid of the bad influences of the past year, accompanied by auspicious signs.

We use objects or foods that present a homophony with a word of auspicious meaning. The “passing of the year” (过年 / 過年, guònián) takes place on the night of the last day of the twelfth month.

The word for year is believed to be originally the name of a monster, Nian, who once came to prowl the villages one night a year, forcing the locals to bundle up and watch until he left in the wee hours of the morning.

The main celebrations include a New Years Eve (年夜饭 / 年夜飯, niányèfàn) that includes dishes with auspicious names, followed by a promise of nighttime sleep longevity (守岁 / 守歲), which some occupy by playing mahjong, the distribution of New Years gifts. (压岁钱 / 壓歲錢, yāsuìqián) contained in red envelopes (hóngbāo), the lighting of firecrackers to drive away bad influences.


The week before the New Year, traditionally 23 or 24 of the 12th month, the “Little New Year” (过 小 年 / 過 小 年, guòxiǎonián) is celebrated, a farewell ceremony at Dios Foyer (灶王爺, Zàowángyé) whose effigy he’s stuck in the kitchen.

According to the beliefs, he must make a long journey to report, like every year, the good and bad actions of the family to the Jade Emperor .. To obtain the reprieve, we place food (quite sticky, like a candy) in front of his image, hoping that he does not speak ill; some stick candy directly into his portrait’s mouth.

This one burns and the Genie flies off with the smoke. A new portrait will be published a few days later, signaling his return. The cleaning of the big house is done.

On the last day, wishes written on red paper are posted everywhere, a symbol of luck. These auspicious characters like fú (福) happiness, or chun (春) spring, are often pasted backwards as the reverse (倒, dào) is homophone to happen (到 dào). It means: “Happiness has come.”

Traditionally, on each side of the door jambs, a strip of red paper is glued on which a verse is written; the two lines respond and constitute a parallel inscription (对联 / 對聯, duìlián); they were once always handwritten, preferably by people with literary and calligraphic gifts.

Of course, last year’s decorations and inscriptions were removed first. Provisions are made, an important preparation in the past, because all businesses closed during the holidays. They include many things to snack on as a family: watermelon seeds, nuts, candies, etc. Shopping for the New Year is called bàn niánhuò (办 年货 / 辦 年貨). We also buy new clothes, especially for children.


Many people ask me about the Chinese New Year festival (2022-2023-2024-2025) and I will gladly summarize how they celebrate and the possible meaning of their rituals. Here we go.

Chinese New Year (Yuan Tan, commemorated on the second new moon after the winter solstice) is celebrated in late January-mid-February usually, keep it in mind; marks the beginning of the festival of spring whose revelry lasts 15 days.

It is one of the few dates when people are happy with the passage of time, that one cycle ends and the next begins; Those who were lucky in that year celebrate their good fortune, those who fate was adverse to them celebrate that it has ended and they are given a new opportunity in life.

Anyway, everything is reason to smile in those days; Joy and excitement set the tone for the Chinese New Year. The dragon dance is a ritual of every year, dances and songs in the street, popular merriment, that could synthesize the spirit of the Chinese New Year.

There are also artisan samples, food tasting, etc. etc; family and friends gather to dine and drink, to be happy and even to venerate their ancestors. But that’s not all.

Ah forgot to say that it is customary to pay what is owed because it is believed that starting the new year with debt is bad luck.

Receiving the new year implies for the traditional Chinese that houses, clothing and people have to be clean, stripped of all atavism with dirt and harmful elements; This is why it is common for people to wear new clothes, sweep and clean their homes, shake off the dust, shine the pots, remove cobwebs, fumigate the house and scare away pests and harmful insects.

Many like to paint or decorate their doors and windows red because the color red is said to scare away evil spirits and twisted people.

A dinner model for the Chinese New Year?

It is common to eat shellfish, fish, prawns, seaweed and even oysters, symbolizing prosperity, good wishes, vivacity and pleasure, etc. Lettuce, tangerines and oranges are valued as good luck foods, to attract wealth.

Children, on the eve of the Chinese New Year, in the company of their elders, share their traditions and stay up late playing, dominoes or a game with a deck (whoever gets a graphic must make up a related story). The adults also give away red envelopes with some money for the little ones.

Why do so many fireworks burn in gunpowder on Chinese New Year? It is assumed by tradition that the noise awakens the dragon that will bring the rains in spring, in such a way that the crops do not lack the vital liquid.

But there are those who think that noise effectively scares away evil spirits and misfortunes; others assume that this noise keeps people awake to enjoy the show. Staying up all night gives long life to the elderly and old.

New clock in chinese new year

Receiving the Chinese New Year with a new watch is a wise decision, as long as they do not give it to you, you must buy it yourself.

This is because said accessory or device always moves forward, taking with it the good or bad energies of its previous owner or donor. If you want to give a watch as a gift, the best thing to do is to get a gift voucher at a watch store or a money exchange voucher at one.

How to say happy new year in Chinese

I was wondering how to say happy new year in Chinese and this is what I came across:

In general, the first terms supplied are in Pinyin;

gōng xǐ Fa Cai, where gong xi means congratulations, is a way of expressing joy; Fa Cai is to become rich or to earn money. It is pronounced “gong zee fah chai”. In essence we are wishing prosperity and joy in the Chinese New Year. It is used mostly among coworkers and businesses. In traditional characters: 恭喜 发财. In simplified characters: 恭喜 发财.

xīn nián kuài lè, is pronounced, “luh kwai neean zeen”; kuai means happy or joyful, while xin nian would translate new year. It is a way to wish success in the new new year without having to refer to money. In traditional characters, 新年 快乐; in simplified characters, 新年 快乐.

How to say happy new year in Cantonese? It differs slightly from Mandarin but actually expresses the same idea: Gong Hey Fat Choy, which is equivalent to gōng xǐ Fa Cai.

Plumbing and electrical system

The plumbing and electrical system in the Chinese New Year should be thoroughly checked. Any leaks from faucets or pipes generally symbolize “leaks” in your finances. Burnt out bulbs or faulty wiring emblematizes poor Qi, which can affect your start to this period.

Read also: Delicious Food to Eat During Chinese New Year ; What is the origin of the Chinese New Year?