Interesting Facts about the Chinese New Year

Facts about the Chinese New Year

Interesting Facts about the Chinese New Year

What I learned about the Chinese New Year is that it's a wonderful Chinese Celebration where in Chinese Families gather together to dine and wish each other good luck for the whole year. Let’s go! 

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How to Celebrate Chinese New Year

1. Chinese Greetings

Greet your Chinese friends by saying “Gong Hey Fat Choy” in Cantonese or “Gong Xi Fa Cai” in Mandarin. “Gong Xi Fa Cai” also means wishing you to be prosperous in the coming year. If they greeted you then you simply respond with "Wishing you a prosperous year, too." 

I've even heard that you can be more open with family and friends by saying "Hong Bao Na Lai," which is translated as "May I have the red envelope, please!"

2. Red envelope

The red envelope is also known as the Red packet, Money envelopes, Lai see, Hongbao, Ampao or Ang Pow for Good Luck. They put in real money or they call it Lucky money inside the envelopes, one of my favorites during the CNY Celebration. A tradition where parents give Ang Pow to children and unmarried adults among their family, relatives and even friends.

Every year I receive Red envelopes from my Chinese Friends, I haven't really used the money at all. Instead, I placed all of it in a big envelope along with my important documents for safekeeping. I might use the money when I'm done working here in Singapore, for now, I just love looking at them safely piled in my drawer.

3. Two Mandarin Orange

I find this tradition quiet interesting where families do house visits and each member carries with them two mandarin oranges. They visit the head or the oldest family member and each one gives two oranges and at the same time conveys their Chinese New Year greetings. The parents and the married adults then give out the red packets along with the oranges.

They prefer Mandarin oranges and even Tangerines as it considered traditional symbols of abundance and good fortune, while for some the orange represents a gold nugget. 

4. Lo-Hei Yu Sheng 

A Chinese Tradition of tossing the prosperity salad. An appetizer named "Yu Sheng" contains specific ingredients that represent a certain meaning, which are then presented separately on a large platter. The act of mixing the yu sheng is called ‘lo hei’, and hei means ‘to rise’, again that symbolises prosperity.

The ingredients with their meaning:
  • Raw fish: nian nian you yu, for abundance
  • Lime: da ji da li, for good luck
  • Five spice powder and pepper: wu fu lin men, for good fortune
  • Plum sauce: tian tian mi mi, for a honeyed year
  • White radish: wan shi ru yi, for success
  • Red chilli: zhao cai jin bao, for prosperity
  • Lettuce: he qi sheng cai, for harmony and wealth
  • Carrot: bu bu gao sheng, for eminence
  • Pickled red ginger: hong yun dang tou, for good luck
  • Oil: fu yun nian nian, for good fortune and luck
  • Peanuts: jin sha man tang, for prosperity
  • Crispy crackers: bian di huang jin, for prosperity

The first time I've seen this tradition I was a bit confused why they're wasting food. Some just toss it to make a mess all around and it drops on the sides of the table and even on the floor. My Chinese friend told me that some people just get really overwhelmed and toss it too high for a prosperous year. They said the higher you aim the more prosperous you will be for the year. The first time I tried it I was pretty excited, I was told to say all my prayers and wishes for the year with every toss. I wished for good health for my family and more travels to come. Indeed I had lots of travel last year and I was blessed with wonderful experiences. 

5. Steamboat or Hot Pot

One way to celebrate Chinese New Year is with a Hot Pot Meal commonly known as Steamboat in Singapore. This is a must for every household during the festive season. My Chinese friend's Family prepares the soup base for the steamboat ahead of time, they boil the soup for hours before its ready to be served on the table. The soup is placed on a stainless pot over an electric stove at the center of the dining table and all the raw ingredients are placed around it. During the feast meat, mushrooms and vegetables are tossed over to the soup as the family patiently waits for the dish to be cooked. Each one gets a bowl where they can scoop out the cooked ingredients and for some, they even have sauce for dipping.

The ingredients placed in the boiling soup also have certain meanings:
  • Prawns are a symbol of happiness. 
  • Long noodles signify longevity. Avoid cutting them into small portions.
  • Fish and abalone is a symbol of abundance. 
  • Dumplings are a symbol of wealth. 
  • Cooked Rice for prosperity.

I'm really not a big fan of steamboat but the warmth of the meal and having my friends around the table brings a whole meaning to it. Now I'm accustomed to the tradition that every Chinese New Year I need to have a steamboat feast to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

6. Spring Cleaning

This is a mandatory act for Chinese Families. My friends would clean their house thoroughly before the new year to get rid of the dust which is considered "old", driving away bad luck or old things to welcome a new start to the year.

7. New Things

My Chinese friends make sure to lean all the corners of their houses and at the same time purchase new household things. They also make sure to to wear something new during the Chinese New Year and having it in red is a plus point too, as Red symbolizes good fortune and joy.

8. Fireworks

The fireworks are launched right after 12 midnight on New Year's Eve, they said to drive away the evil and bring good luck for the whole year.

9. Meanwhile in the Philippines... This is how I celebrate the Chinese New Year.


I'm not really Chinese even thou my relatives told me that my grandmother has Chinese lineage. In our family, we simply join the celebration with a box of Tikoy. “Tikoy” is also known as Chinese New Year's cake, ti kuih and Nian gao. It is made from glutinous rice, lard, water and sugar and it symbolizes higher year for the family. It is famous as a gift in the Chinoy or Chinese-Filipino Community in the Philippines. They said the sticky texture represents the family's strong ties for the whole year.

10. Respect

We all have different customs and traditions, so it's a must to respect each other's beliefs and values. I'm glad I get to experience the Chinese New Year, it's a beautiful celebration of being with your family and friends and wishing everyone good fortune and joy. 

As for every traveler and tourist visiting a Chinese Country or a country with Chinese Citizens, we must join and celebrate this wonderful start of the year, wishing our Chinese friends and the Chinese Community a prosperous new year. Welcome Year of the Dragon!

Have fun and be safe ^__^

Do you want more adventure?
If you still have one more day to spare why not go for a Foodventure in Singapore.

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