Chinese New Year celebration lasts for 15 days. In China, it is a big celebration with at least a week off from work. In some Southeast Asian countries where there is a big number of Chinese population like Singapore, Malaysia and Philippines, people are given one or two days off from work.
Chinese people start preparing for the Chinese new year by spring cleaning. They make sure that their house is clean as they welcome the new year. They also buy new clothes to be worn during the celebration. In addition, families gathered together to enjoy their meal on the day of the celebration.
Chinese new year is not complete without the lion dance. Lion dance is said to bring good luck and chase away evil spirits. Lighting of firecrackers is also done in some countries (except Singapore) to drive away the evil spirits.
Other traditions that Chinese people will do are the following:
- Wear red clothes. Red is a sign of good luck. They wear red clothes, and also, they decorate their house with red lanterns to invite good fortune for the coming year.
- Give out red packet/envelope, hong bao or angpao. The red packet is given to children and to those who are still single or unmarried. The money that should be placed inside are even numbers (e.g. $2, $4, etc) because it signifies good luck.
- Give mandarin oranges. Mandarin oranges are given to those who are married. Please do note to give mandarin oranges, and not the Western oranges. Mandarin orange sounds like the Hokkien word for good fortune.
Various countries prepare different food that symbolizes good luck. In Singapore and Malaysia, they have lohei (yusheng or prosperity toss). This food is a mixture of raw fish and vegetables. People are to toss it with a pair of chopsticks as they utter their wishes for the coming year. In the Philippines, niangao (sweet cake) or more popularly known as tikoy is a very popular food prepared during the new year. It is also considered as good luck when eaten during this occasion.
Chinese new year traditions revolve around having a good luck for the upcoming year. Now that you know some of the Chinese traditions during the Chinese new year, you have already an idea what to bring or what to give to your Chinese friends during this special occasion.