Lunar New Year

New Year Flower

The Lunar New Year will begin on Thursday 19 February 2015. The upcoming Year of the Sheep is expected to be auspicious and Chinese communities around the world are looking forward to a 2-week celebration of this most significant of festivals.

 

 

 

Read on for an overview of: Astrological Signs, Origins of Chinese New Year, Lai See, Food, Flowers, Traditions and Events.

 

Astrological Signs

The twelve astrological signs are each represented by an animal and, according to legend, a race was held to determine their order in the 12-year cycle. The Rat won by cunningly jumped on the head of the Ox and leaping off and over the finish line, followed by the Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

Those born in the Year of the Sheep are known for being considerate, sympathetic and artistically talented.

 

Chinese HorseOrigins of Chinese New Year 

The origin of Lunar New Year began with the conquest of a mythical, man-eating beast called “Nin" ("Nian" in Mandarin) who -- on what has become --New Year’s Eve would emerge from his mountain lair to terrorize and prey upon the people. When an old man observed that “Nin” seemed to fear loud noises and the color red, people pasted red paper on doors and windows and, upon his approach, would also light firecrackers and bang pots and pans. These scare tactics were successful and “Nin” ceased to be a bother.

From this has sprung the traditions of red paper decorations, the lighting of fire crackers and boisterous lion dances, which continue in the present day.

 

Lai See

Red Pockets

On the first day of the New Year, children pay their respect to their elders and in turn receive red envelopes, called “Lai See” ("Hong Bao" in Mandarin), that contain lucky money. It is customary to pass out “Lai See” to all unmarried friends and those who provide you with services throughout the year (such as concierges, guards, cleaners, etc.). Crisp, new bills in red envelopes are traditionally used and can be obtained from banks. Start early to avoid queues. How much to give is dependent upon how well you know the person or what kind of service they provide for you. Generally, anything from HKD20-50 (RMB10 - 50) is well received, though you may want to offer more for exceptional service. The red envelopes or “Lai See” packets can be purchased at any stationery shop and some stores and banks tend to give them away as well. You can also find them at street stalls all year round and dedicated printing shops in the months before the festival.

Chinese Dishes

 

 

Food 

Food plays an important role in most Chinese festivals and Chinese New Year is no exception. The names of these dishes have been aptly named to “sound” lucky and ensure good fortune for the coming year.

Fat Go 發糕
(Fa Gao)

A kind of sweet cake made from rice flour; “fat” means prosperity while “go” means to rise into a high position

Nin Go 年糕
(Nian Gao)

Another sweet rice cake that is a must have, as the mincepie would be to Christmas; it suggests a yearly rise in position

Fat Choy Ho-See
發財好事
(Fa-Cai Hao-Shi)

A stewed dish of dried oysters and black moss (also known as edible seaweed); “fat choy” sounds similar to the words for good fortune and wealth, while “ho-see” suggests “everything is good”.

 

Nearly every hotel, major Chinese restaurant and grocery store offers these Chinese New Year treats. It’s definitely worth the risk of expanding your waistline and giving giving them a try !

 

Flowers

Flower Market

Ubiquitous flowers and red paper decorations (known as “Fai-Tsun”, and "Hui-Chui" in Mandarin) are used to represent life, growth & prosperity. Those that are especially popular include:

The mandarin orange tree
whose name sounds like “gum”, meaning “gold” and “prosperity” in Chinese

The peach blossom
which is a symbol of good fortune & romance
The Chinese narcissus bulb
which is similar to the regular narcissus but with a more unique, heavenly scent
Forsythia, pussy willow and other long stem flowers
which are also popular, are placed in tall vases decorated with lucky symbols


Traditions

Flower Market

The Festival is a time to reaffirm family togetherness— when any outstanding quarrels should be settled or forgotten. Traditionally, family members would make the journey “home”, no matter where they might be, to join the entire family and greet the New Year together. Today, however, a number of families take advantage of the extended holiday to travel and relax. Regardless pre-festival preparations begin a month beforehand, when houses must be thoroughly cleaned to sweep away any traces of bad luck. Homes are then decorated with special flowers and doors and windows are covered in poems. Tradition also calls for the use of new dishes and the wearing of new clothes— a perfect excuse to go shopping. The following are some traditions which many are still practicing. As you can see, family obligations for Lunar New Year extend well beyond the public holiday.

 

 

  New Year’s Eve
  • The extended family comes together to dine on traditional foods. The highlight of the dinner is the fish dish, which is placed on the table but should not be finished as the remainder is to be saved for New Year’s dinner on the following evening. In Cantonese and Mandarin, fish is “yu” which sounds like “plenty” or “surplus”, meaning there a surplus of prosperity will be ensured in the coming year.
  • Shou Shui”( "Shou-sui" in Mandarin) requires the youngest member of the family to stay awake as late as possible to ensure good health for the elder members.
  • In Hong it is popular to visit the Taoist Wong Tai Sin temple in order to ask for better luck in the New Year. Many set the goal to be the first to enter at midnight as the fortune-telling bamboo sticks touching the holder first are considered to have the best chance for one’s prayers to be answered.

 

  New Year’s Day—Day 1
  • Housework and the washing of hair, knives or other sharp objects are all to be avoided as cleaning on this day is considered taboo (as if you are washing your luck away).
  • “Bai-Nin” ("Bai-nian" in Mandarin) involves New Year visits to family and friends. This occurs on the first 2 days of the New Year. The younger relatives visit the older ones, bringing fruits and candies with them and receiving “Lai See” in return.

 

  Day 2
  • Lion Dances are traditionally performed on the first day that a business re-opens. Green leaves with “Lai See” attached are symbolically fed to the lion, thereby ensuring good business and prosperity.

 

  Day 3
  • Day 3 is known as “Chek-Hau” ("Chi-kou" in Mandarin), which sounds like the word for quarreling. Due to this coincidental rhyme, families do not make visits to friends and relatives on this day. Instead, some may visit the Che Kung Temple, famous for its wind wheel, and give it a spin to ask for better luck in the New Year.

 

  Day 7
  • Day 7 is “Yun-Yut” ("Ren-ri" in Mandarin), also known as the ‘common man’s birthday’. Everyone ‘officially’ grows one year older on this day.

 

  Day 15—End of the Festival
  • The last day of the festival is known as “Yuen-Siu-Jit” ("Yuan xiao jie" in Mandarin) or Lantern Day. It is also considered to be the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day. Traditionally, a riddle would be attached to a lantern and if you could answer the riddle correctly, you would win the lantern as your prize.
  • This is also the day to eat “tong-yuen” ("yuan xiao" in Mandarin), a sweetened, sticky, rice flour dumpling signifying togetherness.

 

 

Events in 2014

BEIJING   |   GUANGZHOU   |   HONG KONG   |   SHANGHAI

 

 

BEIJING

  Ditan (Temple of Earth) Temple Fair
  Date 30 January - 6 February 2014
  Best Time To Visit 9:00am - 5:00pm
  Venue Ditan Park, 2A Andingmenwai Dajie, Dongcheng District

  Activities

One of Beijing’s biggest and most popular fairs, with hundreds of food stalls and a packed entertainment schedule with a variety of performances. Hundreds of excellent folk arts & performing troupes from all over China are invited to perform. Acrobats perform daring stunts, dragon dancers weave in and out of the crowds, vendors sell all things festive, and of course local xiao chi (snacks) are available everywhere.

 

  Longtanhu Temple Fair
  Date 30 January - 6 February 2014
  Time 9:00am – 6:00pm
  Venue 1 km East of the Temple of Heaven, inside Longtan Lake Park
Zuoanmennei Dajie, Chongwen District

  Activities

Fair events here are very similar to those in Ditan. There will be various interactive competitions inviting visitors to join in arm-wrestling, rock climbing and chess playing.

Contact Tel: (010) 6714 4336

 

  Longqing Gorge Ice Lantern Festival
  Date 1 January  - 28 February 2014
  Time 5:00pm - 10:00pm
  Venue Gucheng Village, Jiuxian Town, Yanqing District

  Activities

During the festival, huge lanterns are carved from ice and colored lights are placed within to create a glowing spectacle that is particularly stunning at night. Children and adults alike can also enjoy sliding down the ice slides in this magical environment. Currently, Bungee in the Longqing Gorge has become more and more popular.

 

GUANGZHOU

 Spring Fairs of Yuexiu, Liwan, Haizhu and Tianhe Districts
  Date & Time 28 January 8:30am- 31 January 2:00am 2014
  Venue a) Xihu Road & Jiaoyu Road, Yuexiu District
b) Three road Daishatou, Yuexiu District
c) Liwan Bei Road, Liwan District
d) Binjiang Xi Road, Haizhu District
e) Baogang Avenue, Haizhu District
f) Tianhe Sports Centre, Tianhe District 

 

 Spring Fair of Baiyun District
  Date & Time 26 January 8:30am- 31 January 2:00am 2014
  Venue Yuanjing Road, Baiyun District

 

  Flower Market on Water
  Date & Time 28 January - 14 February 2014
  Venue Liwan Lake, Lichee Bay & Renwei Temple

 

  Flower Market Carnival
  Date & Time 28 January - 14 February 2014
  Venue South Square of Tianhe Sports Center, Tianhe District

 

HONG KONG

  Lunar New Year Fairs (Flower Markets)
  Date  25-30 January 2014
  Best Time To Visit  Noon - midnight
  Venue Various venue all over Hong Kong, including
Victoria Park, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Island
Fa Hui Park, Mong Kok, Kowloon

  Activities

Flower markets are an indispensable part of Chinese New Year celebrations. The markets are a gorgeous rainbow of colours and a riot of scents, offering the perfect backdrop for the multitude of individuals that descend upon popular markets in search of that perfect plant to bring them good luck in the coming year.


  Cathy Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade
  Date 31 January 2014
  Time 8pm - 9:30pm
  Parade Route Tsim Sha Tsui Hong Kong Cultural Centre Piazza > Canton Road > Haiphong Road > Nathan Road > Salisbury Road > Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel & Towers

  Activities

Free viewing of the parade along the designated route. One can also join a tour that takes you to some of HK’s most exciting attractions during the day and allows you to enjoy the parade from a reserved grandstand in the evening.


  2014 Lunar New Year Fireworks Display
  Date 1 February 2014
  Time 8pm
  Venue Victoria Harbour between Central and Tsim Sha Tsui

  Activities

You are guaranteed a magnificent spectacle should you decide to join the thousands of people who flock to both sides of Victoria Harbour to witness the Lunar New Year Fireworks Display. Otherwise, if you choose to watch from the comfort of your home, turn on the radio or television to hear the accompanying music.


 2014 Chinese New Year Race Day (Horse Racing)
  Date 2 February 2014
  Time 11am - 6pm
  Venue Sha Tin Racecourse, New Territories

  Activities

A day of horse racing provides a unique way of welcoming the New Year. Catch all the fun and excitement during this special day on HK’s horse-racing calendar, taking place on the third day of Chinese New Year. Not surprisingly, it is a tradition amongst local sports fans to attend the first meeting of the season and place a “lucky” bet.

For all the events details, please visit the Hong Kong Tourism Board .

 

SHANGHAI

  Lantern Festival in Yu Garden
  Date & Time 31 January - 17 February 2014
  Venue Yu Garden, 269 Fangbang Zhong Road, Huangpu

 

  Spring Festival in Shanghai Guyi Garden
  Date & Time 28 December 2013 - 18 February 2014
  Venue Shanghai Guyi Garden, 218 Huyi Highway, Jiading
  Price RMB12

 

  Design Shanghai - Aesthetic City
  Date & Time 3 December 2013 - 30 March 2014
  Venue Power Station of Art
200 Huayuan Gang Road, Huangpu
  Website http://en.design-shanghai.com

 

  Song & Dance of Reminiscene Evening
  Date & Time 03 February 2014 (Mon) 19:15
04 February 2014 (Tue) 19:15
  Venue Shanghai Grand Theatre
300 People Avenue, Huangpu
  Price RMB80 - 580
  Website http://www.shgtheatre.com

 

  Shanghai Camellia Exhibition
  Date & Time 28 January - 16 March 2014, 8:00am - 5:00pm
  Venue Shanghai Botanical Garden
1111 Longwu Road, Xihui
  Price RMB15; RMB40 (Coupon ticket)

 

  New Year's Concert by Shanghai Chinese Orchestra
  Date & Time 25 January 2014  (Sat) 19:30
  Venue Shanghai Concert Hall
523 Yan'an Dong Road, Huangpu
  Price RMB80-580
  Website http://www.shanghaiconcerthall.org

 

 

At APP, we believe that understanding Chinese holidays and customs helps both newcomers and long-time residents make the most of this vibrant city and its rich heritage. APP has been helping people find great homes and enjoy Hong Kong and China since 1985. Please feel free to forward this to others who may find it interesting.

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