A guide to how to celebrate Chinese new year in the most authentic way

This year the celebration of Chinese New Year will start on the night of the 4th of February, which is the New year Eve, also the most important night of the entire holiday. Children travel miles back to their home to visit their parents. With China having the economic boom, the fast pace of the cities impossible to follow, to spend time with family is truly a valuable moment.

A standard Chinese New Year’s Eve would start with all the family gathering together and making 饺子jiǎozi around a big table, while children share their story of living in the big cities, the elders jog back their memory of the old days. The Children get to taste the dishes made by moms that might have accompanied them throughout their childhood but when you get bigger each time it becomes a luxury.

Give red pocket money or gifts in lucky numbers

The red pocket money is a red envelope people give around during Chinese New Year, a symbol of luck and fortune, quite straightforward too comparing to nicely wrapped gifts.

The red pocket money is usually given from adults to the minors. After the midnight of New year’s Eve, the grandpas sent out red envelopes and the kids 叩头kòu tóu( knock head on the floor) companied by saying some good wishes. It was believed the money will keep the evil away, and keep the kids healthy, and live a long life. Red pockets can also be sent between friends, employers to employees, now the fashion trend is sending out digital red pocket through wechat.

Lucky red items

When approaching the new year season, you can see all the streets and houses covered in red, the essential components of the new year decoration would be:

灯笼dēnglóng (red Chinese lanterns)
中国结 Zhōngguó jié (Chinese knots)
对联 duìlián (Chinese couplets written in red paper stripes and hang on the each side of the door)
福字fúzì (the word”福fú ” hanging upside down which symbolizes the good luck is going to come )

Lucky food that can bring you a year of prosperity

Fish in Chinese is pronounced as 鱼 yú,it shares the same sound with the word 余yú,which means”left”, the wish is to have enough of everything that you can even spare, with food, money and fortune.

Also similar with chicken 鸡jī and tangerine 橘子júzi, both are lucky food, because their pronunciations are close to the word 吉jí,which means “luck”. Have you eaten your fair share of chicken and fish this year?

The good tradition is slipping away

I remember when i was little, the whole new year season is a real carnival that continues almost for half a month. A few days before the holiday the whole family would get busy for many days doing the clean-up. I vividly remember that we almost flipped the entire house inside out, washed and changed all the sheets and clothes, i also helped my dad hanging the red knot and lantern.

And when the New Year’s Eve officially started, it was just whole night of partying. My grandapas, uncles and my parents played majiong, with the new year TV gala blasting in the background, me chasing my cousins around the house. Including at some moment there was certain self-orchestrated extravaganza involved me tireless jumping between roles. It was real authentic new year fun.

And my grandma was the person usually prepared all of these things, she was one of those that always takes family occasions very seriously, she liked to always be personally in charge of all the preparing process, a perfectionist, who wanted her napkins folded in the exact same manner.

Now my grandma already passed away many years, and i am three years away from home, each time my parents also seem to bother less and less with the cleaning and decoration .

It is happening as a social phenomenon. Now the red pocket money can be transferred with digital application, setting fireworks is considered contamination to the air, and everybody always seems too busy to do anything. Who would actually be willing to go over all the fuss to prepare all these things. But these things are all important, they are all part of the ritual, they can tell who we are, and where we belong. When we are so eager to rush forward, throwing away what we considered old and rigid on the way, i wonder what will we truly be left with. Will we still feel identified? Or are we finally just millions of unrecognized faces?

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