Chinese New Year 2024

Chinese New Year 2024

First edition.

The Chinese culture is built on centuries of customs and traditions. The new year is one of the most important events on the Chinese calender, also known as The Spring Festival. This year brings in the year of the dragon. In Chinese culture - the loong – people usually call it the dragon – symbolizes nobility, good fortune and vitality. It is going to be a year of auspicious opportunities, and dragon-sized blessings for us all!

Attire for the party

You can't go wrong with a new set of clothes that are red or gold in colour. The key word here is new. In Chinese culture, buying and wearing new clothes to welcome the lunar new year symbolises a fresh start.

What is the customary gift for Chinese New Year?

Chinese New Year 2023 Gift Guide | The Royal Mint

It is customary to give a host their favourite type of alcohol, tea or tobacco as a thank you for entertaining guests. Fruit baskets are also considered to be a thoughtful gift, particularly apples and oranges, as these are associated with fortune and safety. I was at a bit of a loss as to what to give to the hosts. I ended up choosing a good wine and I found some artisan crisps. I had no idea whether the hosts drank alcohol or not but it is a gift for somebody else if they don't. I hardly ever drink myself but I often buy wine, for that reason.

Festivities include street parties, processions, a wishing wall, markets, arts and craft fairs and workshops and many other activities. It is also a time to gather with family and friends. Above is a traditional Chinese costume with a typical Chinese hairstyle. Red is the predominant colour. Red is believed to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck and blessings. For the Year of the Dragon, red is significant because of the dragon's positive attributes.

A big meal is prepared with a number of dishes. As some of the dishes are quite spicy or chilli hot, separate dishes can be served for children. After the main courses have been consumed, the table is cleared to make space for the dessert, not all of which are sweet.

After the festivities the children form a queue to recieve - The Hóngbāo. These are red envelopes which are filled with money - they symbolize good wishes and luck for the new year ahead. The importance of the hóngbāo is not the cash held inside; it is actually the envelope itself. The red colour symbolizes good luck and prosperity in Chinese (and other East Asian) cultures. I was not sure where to buy the red envelopes from so I asked the host if I could use a white one instead. She said it had to be red. She told me not to worry, she had some. Funnily enough, when giving the envelope, I was asked where I had got the envelope from. As my lovely student is very bright, she answered her own question.

Popular decorations for the New Year celebrations

  • Hang Red Lanterns for Prosperity and Luck. ...
  • Display Spring Couplets for Good Wishes. ...
  • Decorate with Blossoming Flowers for Renewal. ...
  • Incorporate Chinese Knots to Symbolize Unity. ...
  • Use Lucky Money Plants for Prosperity. ...
  • Display Chinese Zodiac Animal Figurines for Personal Touch.

I was blessed to have been invited to a Chinese New Year party by a wonderful Chinese family I have know for around 5 years. The house was decorated beautifully in various examples of Chinese good luck and prosperity symbols. The decorations were very tasteful. The atmosphere was one of excitement, joy, along with an abundance of love. The aroma of Chinese cooking drifted from the kitchen, where 3 or 4 people were busy finishing off the preparations for the celebration dinner. One of the mothers of the children who had been invited took it upon herself to fix all of the girls' hair in a traditional Chinese style, chopstick included. They all looked stunning. They were so happy to be at the party, well aware that they were living new cultural experiences, savouring new flavours and textures.

Following the delicious food, the children went outside to light fireworks. Don't be as shocked as I was, they were only sparklers and firecrackers. Waving sparklers around sent me right back to my own childhood, some traditions never go out of style. They are such simple activities for the children but when I asked them what the highlights were of the party the fireworks were on the top spot, followed by the firecrackers. It was an evening which will stay with me as one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I am truly grateful to the hosts for their gracious invitation to a cultural event which I was delighted to have attended.