Celebrating the Start of the Lunar Year
For the Chinese, the Lunar New Year is the longest and most festive holiday of all. It can last for 15 days until the Lantern Festival, the traditional end of Spring Festival celebration. During this time, all of China take part in many activities, from offering sacrifices to their ancestors to taking part in the different festivals.
The New Year is essentially incomplete without these three – food, parade and fireworks. Every dining table will be laden with dishes bearing auspicious meanings – dumplings for good fortune, fish for good luck, glutinous rice balls for completeness and spring rolls for a fresh start. Meanwhile, crowds will line the streets and make way for the parade in the Tsim Sha Tsui area near Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong and at Senado Square in Macau.
To welcome the lunar new year, billions of fireworks go up everywhere in the Mainland. This year, those in Macau and Hong Kong will enjoy watching the official display of lights near the Macau Tower and Victoria Harbour, respectively. While there are no official fireworks displays during the holidays in Taiwan, locals are expected to set off firecrackers to scare away evil spirits and welcome the coming of the New Year.
Unique Chinese New Year Traditions
Wine Party in the Mainland
One of the important the Chinese New Year traditions is wine drinking. Spring Festival in the Mainland is incomplete without alcohol, especially wine. During the New Year’s Eve dinner with the family, wine is present alongside a bunch of good food. People drink for happiness, good relationships and other wishes. The wine culture of the Chinese is so rich that it involves a whole set of etiquette rules.
During the Spring Festival, the Chinese drink nianjiu, which literally translates to “year alcohol.” Tusu wine, a type of baijiu, has been considered the nianjiu since the ancient times. Other popular drinks are rice wine, red wine and foreign spirits like whisky. The Chinese typically ramp up an alcohol party by including games like Chui Niu aka Dice or Card Counting.
Horse Racing in Hong Kong
The Chinese New Year Race Day is an important part of the celebration for the Hong Kongers. It is a local tradition to kick-start the new year with some fun-filled betting and gambling. This year, the event will take place on February 7. Over 100,000 people are expected to crowd into the Sha Tin Racecourse for the grand opening show and cultural performances.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club, a nonprofit charity group, spearheads the event. Visitors look forward to a stroll along the colorfully decorated Windmills and Blossom Lane, as well as the free gifts and prizes to be given. This year, the host has prepared a full program of festivities, including free fortune tips from a local Feng Shui master.
Flower Gifting in Macau
Macau’s celebration of the New Year is made even more special with the flowers and plants used to decorate the region. For the Macanese, they represent courage, luck, and positivity. It is common for people to give flowers as gifts for the New Year. Each blossom holds a special significance. For instance, peonies are for prosperity, while peach blossoms are for romance.
The flower markets in Macau are popular places to go for the holidays. The Tap Seac Square in São Lázaro is the biggest attraction, where a number of booths sell flowers and gifts, as well as food and beverages. There are also lion dances that guests will enjoy watching. The place opens in the morning on New Year’s Eve and stays open late.
Pineapple Craze in Taiwan
Pineapple symbolizes wealth and prosperity and in Taiwan, it is always present during special occasions. During the New Year, the Taiwanese people like serving fresh pineapple, or any pineapple product. Pineapple cakes are sweet traditional pastries that are popular to both young and old.
For the Lantern Festival, many local shops sell pineapple-shaped lanterns. The Taiwanese hang them at storefronts and along paths to light the way. Some send glowing lanterns into the sky, while others release floating ones onto the sea and rivers as a way to mark the end of the Spring Festival.
Parting Thoughts on Chinese New Year Traditions
Whether in China or other parts of the world, the New Year is essentially a time for families. Many Chinese travel to their hometown to reunite with their parents and relatives, catch up on a year’s worth of memories and indulge in well-earned days of merrymaking and fun.
For businesses, the Chinese New Year is the prime time for sales. Consumers are known to splurge on items essential to the celebration, like gifts and food. With strategic planning and promotions, companies can double their sales and earn profits.