Sunday, 4 March 2018
CHINA: Chinese New Year Of The Dog,Men Born In Dog Year Are Straightforward,Genuine,Energetic, Pessimistic, Women Are Cautious And Don’t Trust Easily
According to tales and legends, the beginning of the Chinese New Year started with a mythical beast called the Nian. Nian would eat villagers, especially children. One year, all the villagers decided to go hide from the beast.
An old man appeared before the villagers went into hiding and said that he's going to stay the night, and decided to get revenge on the Nian. All the villagers thought he was insane.
The old man put red papers up and set off firecrackers. The day after, the villagers came back to their town to see that nothing was destroyed.
They assumed that the old man was a deity who came to save them. The villagers then understood that the Nian was afraid of the color red and loud noises.
When the New Year was about to come, the villagers would wear red clothes, hang red lanterns, and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nian.
From then on, Nian never came to the village again. The Nian was eventually captured by Hongjun Laozu, an ancient Taoist monk. After that, Nian retreated to a nearby mountain. The name of the mountain has long been lost over the years.
During the festival, people around China will prepare different gourmet for families and guests. Influenced by the flourished cultures, foods from different places look and taste totally different.
Among them, the most well-known ones are dumplings from northern China and Tangyuan from southern China.
Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival in modern China, is an important Chinese festival celebrated at the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. It is one of several Lunar New Years in Asia.
Celebrations traditionally run from the evening preceding the first day, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first calendar month.
The first day of the New Year falls on the new moon between January 21 and February 20 In 2018, the first day of the Lunar New Year was on Friday, 16 February, initiating the year of the Dog.
It is one of the world's most prominent and celebrated festivals, and involves the largest annual mass human migration in the world.
It is a major holiday in Greater China and has had strong influence on the lunar new year celebrations of its geographic neighbours, including Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Mauritius, Australia, Philippines and Russia.
While mainly celebrated in Asia, it has also been seen around the world, due to the influence of Chinese diaspora and China's growing status.
The New Year festival is centuries old and associated with several myths and customs. Traditionally, the festival was a time to honour deities as well as ancestors.
Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Lunar New Year vary widely.
Often, the evening preceding Lunar New Year's Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner.
It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly clean the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for incoming good luck.
Windows and doors are decorated with red colour paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of good fortune or happiness, wealth, and longevity.
Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes. In about one third of the Mainland population, or 500 million Northerners, dumplings especially those of vegetarian fillings feature prominently in the meals celebrating the festival.
Chinese New Year is observed as a public holiday in a number of countries and territories where there is a sizable Chinese population.
Since Chinese New Year falls on different dates on the Gregorian calendar every year on different days of the week, some of these governments opt to shift working days in order to accommodate a longer public holiday.
In some countries, a statutory holiday is added on the following work day when the New Year falls on a weekend, as in the case of 2013, where the New Year's Eve (9 February) falls on Saturday and the New Year's Day (10 February) on Sunday.
Depending on the country, the holiday may be termed differently; common names are Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year, New Year Festival, and Spring Festival.
A reunion dinner, named as Nian Ye Fan, is held on New Year's Eve during which family members gather for a celebration. The venue will usually be in or near the home of the most senior member of the family.
The New Year's Eve dinner is very large and sumptuous and traditionally includes dishes of meat namely, pork and chicken and fish.
Most reunion dinners also feature a communal hot pot as it is believed to signify the coming together of the family members for the meal.
Most reunion dinners particularly in the Southern regions also prominently feature specialty meats e.g. wax-cured meats like duck and Chinese sausage and seafood e.g. lobster and abalone that are usually reserved for this and other special occasions during the remainder of the year.
In most areas, fish is included, but not eaten completely and the remainder is stored overnight, as the Chinese phrase may there be surpluses every year or let there be fish every year.
Eight individual dishes are served to reflect the belief of good fortune associated with the number. If in the previous year a death was experienced in the family, seven dishes are served.
Red packets for the immediate family are sometimes distributed during the reunion dinner. These packets often contain money in certain numbers that reflect good luck and honorability.
Several foods are consumed to usher in wealth, happiness, and good fortune. Several of the Chinese food names are homophones for words that also mean good things.
Like many other New Year dishes, certain ingredients also take special precedence over others as these ingredients also have similar-sounding names with prosperity, good luck, or even counting money.
Traditionally, red envelopes or red packets are passed out during the Chinese New Year's celebrations, from married couples or the elderly to unmarried juniors. It is also common for adults or young couples to give red packets to children.
During this period, red packets are also known as yasuiqian, literally, the money used to suppress or put down the evil spirit.
Red packets almost always contain money, usually varying from a couple of dollars to several hundred. Per custom, the amount of money in the red packets should be of even numbers, as odd numbers are associated with cash given during funerals.
The number 8 is considered lucky for its homophone for wealth, and $8 is commonly found in the red envelopes in the US.
The number six or liu is also very lucky as it sounds like smooth, in the sense of having a smooth year. The number four is the worst because its homophone is death. Sometimes chocolate coins are found in the red packets.
Odd and even numbers are determined by the first digit, rather than the last. Thirty and fifty, for example, are odd numbers and are thus appropriate as funeral cash gifts.
However, it is common and quite acceptable to have cash gifts in a red packet using a single bank note with ten or fifty yuan bills used frequently. It is customary for the bills to be brand new printed money.
Everything regarding the New Year has to be new in order to have good luck and fortune.
The act of asking for red packets is normally called tao-hongbaoin Mandarin or tao-hongbao in Cantonese.
A married person would not turn down such a request as it would mean that he or she would be out of luck in the new year. Red packets are generally given by established married couples to the younger non-married children of the family.
It is custom and polite for children to wish elders a happy new year and a year of happiness, health and good fortune before accepting the red envelope.
Red envelopes are then kept under the pillow and slept on for seven nights after Chinese New Year before opening because that symbolizes good luck and fortune.
In Taiwan in the 2000s, some employers also gave red packets as a bonus to maids, nurses or domestic workers from Southeast Asian countries, although whether this is appropriate is controversial.
The Japanese have a similar tradition of giving money during the New Year, called Otoshidama.
In addition to red envelopes, which are usually given from older people to younger people, small gifts usually food or sweets are also exchanged between friends or relatives of different households during Chinese New Year.
Gifts are usually brought when visiting friends or relatives at their homes. Common gifts include fruits typically oranges, and never pears, cakes, biscuits, chocolates, and candies.
Certain items should not be given, as they are considered taboo. Taboo gifts include:
- items associated with funerals (i.e. handkerchiefs, towels, chrysanthemums, items colored white and black)
- items that show that time is running out (i.e. clocks and watches)
- sharp objects that symbolize cutting a tie (i.e. scissors and knives)
- items that symbolize that you want to walk away from a relationship examples: shoes and sandals
- homonyms for unpleasant topics examples: "clock" sounds like "the funeral ritual", green hats because "wear a green hat" sounds like "cuckold", "handkerchief" sounds like "goodbye", "pear" sounds like "separate", and "umbrella" sounds like "disperse".
Markets or village fairs are set up as the New Year is approaching. These usually open-air markets feature new year related products such as flowers, toys, clothing, and even fireworks and firecrackers.
It is convenient for people to buy gifts for their new year visits as well as their home decorations.
In some places, the practice of shopping for the perfect plum tree is not dissimilar to the Western tradition of buying a Christmas tree.
Hong Kong filmmakers also release New Year celebration films, mostly comedies, at this time of year.
Bamboo stems filled with gunpowder that was burnt to create small explosions were once used in ancient China to drive away evil spirits.
In modern times, this method has eventually evolved into the use of firecrackers during the festive season.
Firecrackers are usually strung on a long fused string so it can be hung down. Each firecracker is rolled up in red papers, as red is auspicious, with gunpowder in its core.
Once ignited, the firecracker lets out a loud popping noise and, as they are usually strung together by the hundreds, the firecrackers are known for their deafening explosions that are thought to scare away evil spirits.
The burning of firecrackers also signifies a joyful time of year and has become an integral aspect of Chinese New Year celebrations.
The use of firecrackers, although a traditional part of the celebration, has over the years led to many unfortunate outcomes.
There have been reported incidents every year of users of fireworks being blinded, losing body parts, or suffering other grievous injuries, especially during the Chinese New Year season.
Hence, many governments and authorities eventually enacted laws completely banning the use of firecrackers privately, primarily because of safety issues.
For New Year celebrations that are lunar but not based on the Chinese New Year such as Korea's Seollal and Vietnam's Tet.
For other countries where Chinese New Year is celebrated but not an official holiday, see the section below on Festivities outside China.
In the first five days of Chinese New Year (CNY) 2018, Chinese movie box office receipts totaled RMB4.6 billion, a rise of almost 60% from a year earlier.
On the CNY eve, more than 300,000 Chinese families ordered reunion dinner delivery through Alipay and Koubei, a restaurant review and local services platform under Alipay.
On the other hand, Alibaba said the sales of imported fresh food on Tmall jumped by about 300% year-on-year, with Chilean king crabs, Boston lobsters, and fish from New Zealand being the most popular.
This is the Year of the Dog according to Chinese zodiac. Also known as the Spring Festival, Chinese New Year marks the beginning of a new year and spring on the lunar calendar.
Time for family reunions, red packets, colorful celebrations, and sumptuous feasts, among many more folk customs.
To marketers and businesses, the associated spending spree, which has got even more exciting, flashes not-to-be-missed room for growth. CNY celebrations today are on-the-move, digital, and big-budget.
In China, most employees have at least seven days off work, with many enjoying two weeks of holidays; and for students, one month away from school.
The Chinese New Year holiday is a global Golden Week for overseas tourist destination according to China National Tourism Administration (CNTA).
By 2022, it is forecast that China will be the world’s largest source of outbound tourism demand.
Shanghai-based travel website Ctrip’s pre-2018 holiday report reveals people from more than 200 Chinese cities had booked outbound tours to over 700 cities in 68 countries and regions, with the tourists expected to spend US$1,510 each on their trips.
Thailand, Japan, Singapore, and Vietnam are the most popular destinations while some favor the Nordic countries and the United Arab Emirates, or travel far to Antarctica.
CNTA data also indicates that outbound travel by Chinese residents grew 270% since 2008 by 2017 and is forecast to rise to 200 million departures by 2020.
Notably, the outbound expenditure increased 730% in 2017 when compared to outbound expenditure in 2008.
According to a spokesperson of travel intelligence agency ForwardKeys, bookings for outbound travel during Chinese New Year, in February 2018, are currently 40% ahead of where they were at the same time last year.
How about inbound travel on the Chinese mainland? CNTA’s most recent figures from February 23, this year say that Spring Festival 2018 saw 386 million inbound travelers, up 12.1% from 2017.
The inbound tourism revenue grew by 12.6% year-on-year to RMB475 billion in 2018. The top ten most popular provinces include Guangdong, Sichuan, Hunan, Jiangsu, Henan, Anhui, Shandong, Guangxi, Hubei, and Zhejiang.
Finer taste, more discerning demand, and enhanced diversity were also noted in the Spring Festival inbound travel this year.
Chinese New Year goes digital in a lot of ways
The red packet or hong bao practice, gifting money in red envelopes, is a distinguished Chinese New Year tradition.
With the world’s largest internet population and smartphone market in China, the red packet has conveniently gone digital in China.
Tencent reported recently that 768 million people use its WeChat, the most popular messaging app in China, to send out digital red packets, up 10% from 2017.
The 768 million senders represented about 78% of the total 980 million monthly active users of WeChat, and 55% of the entire population in China.
In 2015, three billion digital red packets were sent through WeChat. That surged to 46 billion in 2017.
In addition, the red packet function can also be found on platforms of Alibaba and a number of other Chinese companies.
It is obvious that reaching the Chinese consumer is a key growth strategy for consumer-facing businesses given China’s sustained economic growth, rising incomes, 1.3 billion consumers, and expanding middle class.
The Chinese economy is the world’s second largest.
Chinese residents stepped spending during this year’s Spring Festival. The retail and catering sectors in China raked in RMB926 billion yuan from February 15 to 21, equivalent to an increase of 10.2% compared with 2017, data from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce shows.
High-tech products are the latest gift trend, indicated by numbers from Taobao, JD.com, and Suning.com. Added to all this is the old custom of getting new clothing and shoes to symbolize a fresh start.
Solving the puzzle of reaching Chinese consumers – doable with the know-how and know-how
China’s 300 million middle-class population accounts for 30% of the total global population, and it is growing.
Chinese consumers today spend more on lifestyle services and experiences as they move from mass to premium segments. Happiness and a balanced life are increasingly valued, as evidenced by the rising trend of tourism.
Data is king if companies want to connect with Chinese consumers who make up the largest group of app and internet users in the world, in particular, segment-by-segment. China’s e-commerce sector is worth $600 billion.
Some prefer well-planned vacations while others are the last-minute type. It is important to leverage behavioural insights and deliver influential messages across all relevant touch-points at the right time.
Marketing dollars ought to be spent on high-potential prospects and adopting a data-driven approach to precisely reach the Chinese wallets.
The Dog is the eleventh of all zodiac animals. According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party.
Monkey, Rooster and Dog were in another country, helping a god defeat evil spirits. After, they set off to the party together.
Because they arrived at the same time, the Jade Emperor went by the order they met the god in the other country. Thus, Dog became eleventh.
The Dog is also associated with the Earthly Branch, and the hours 7–9 in the evening. In the terms of yin and yang, the Dog is yang.
In China, it is still popular to name dogs Wang Cai. It means prosperous wealth and comes from dogs’ barking sounds.
Honest and loyal, Dogs are the truest friends and most reliable partner.
Recent years of the Dog are: 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018
Paired with the Celestial Stems, there is a 60-year calendrical cycle. Although xu is associated with earth, the years also cycle through the five elements of nature.
A Dog’s most defining characteristic is their loyalty. They will never abandon their friends, family or work.
Honest and just, they are popular in social circles. Everyone needs a Dog friend for advice and help. They are also good at helping others find and fix their bad habits.
Despite how they act, they are worried and anxious inside. However, they will not let this stop them. Once they decide on something, no one can persuade them against it.
These Dogs are traditional and attractive. They have high self-esteem and don’t like receiving help. But they like helping others, though it sometimes causes problems for themselves.
They will take over someone’s position and it’ll open up a smooth road to success.
Water 1922, 1982 These Dogs are calculative planners. They focus on building a strong foundation for their future. But when faced with difficulties, they can become very pessimistic. They work hard, but should create bigger goals in order to use their full potential.
Wood 1934, 1994 These Dogs are trustworthy and polite. If given help, they’ll do whatever they can to repay the kindness. They adhere strongly to their morals and ethics.
Others can find it hard to understand. They do well in jobs that require patience and will keep fighting until they succeed.
Fire 1946, 2006 These Dogs are dream chasers. They generally have smaller dreams that are easy to fulfill, which motivates them to continue on. When friends have trouble, they’ll give advice but won’t set out immediately to help.
Every step must be thought out carefully before they act.
Earth 1958, 2018 These Dogs are stubborn and never give up. They aren’t very connected with the world and society. Though stubborn, they respect other perspectives. They believe that as long as they work hard, they’ll make it.
Men born in the Dog year are straightforward and genuine. They are energetic, though they’re more pessimistic inside.
Very opinionated, they’re always ready to correct others and defend their stance. It’s not that they want to show off. They just feel it’s necessary to help others realize their mistakes.
These men care deeply for their family. Their stubbornness fades in the face of their loved ones. They work to understand and compromise, resulting in a harmonious family life.
Women born in the Dog year are very cautious. They are indifferent towards people they don’t like, and don’t trust easily. But once they do, it’s permanent. They are intensely protective of their friends and family.
They are genial and independent. They love outdoor activities and being in nature. However, they are also hard workers and don’t give up until they succeed. Security and a stable income are her requirements for a career.
Dogs are the most compatible with Rabbits. They’re attracted to the Rabbit’s kindness, while the Rabbit supports Dogs in the background.
Dogs are often pessimistic and needs a Tiger’s reassurance. Tigers also need a Dog’s loyalty. With Horses, both understand and respect each other’s opinions.
Dogs and Dragons clash strongly and are the least compatible. Neither trusts each other and they have intense arguments.
There’s a cold relationship with Oxen. They have different interests and can’t interact smoothly. Dogs and Goats are able to tolerate each other, but there’s not much else.
Dogs are loyal and obey all orders. They put in their biggest effort to accomplish any task given to them. Because they aren’t satisfied with being worse than others, a competitive job would suit them well.
They are also sensitive to details and have strong reasoning skills. They see the dangers of being in a position of high status. This is why they’re willing to stay in the background and support others.
They’d do well in a behind-the-scenes type of job. Dogs are observant and have strong morals. They judge everyone before deciding if the person is trustworthy.
This makes them a good candidate for careers such as referees, lawyers and interviewers.
Dogs are healthy overall, but the status of their health often has drastic changes. Though they seem resilient, it actually hides the symptoms that they may have.
The smallest colds can put them in bed for days. Be wary of influenza and other contagious diseases during summer and autumn seasons
They should pay attention to their digestive system during their youth. Their biggest enemy is their unhealthy diet.
Once in the workforce, Dogs will constantly be busy. The stress will lead to headaches and migraines. In extreme cases, it can even lead to hysteria.
To create a strong base, Dogs should begin the habit of exercising early on. Taking breaks as needed and relaxing activities such as yoga are recommended.
The year of one’s zodiac sign is their ben ming nian. It is traditionally the most unlucky year with trouble and danger lurking at every corner.
There will be unforeseeable problems in work. The financial situation is quite risky. Dogs will also find it difficult to communicate with loved ones too.
In order to not make things worse, Dogs should keep a low profile. Thinking before they speak and act is the key.
It’s hard to concentrate on studies. Dogs will be distracted by other things and they’re grades will slip. They should also keep a low profile so they don’t attract bullies.
Dogs should also be careful of safety during activities outside of class.
Nothing too drastic happens to Dogs’ health in 2018. They should rest well to prevent fatigue and exhaustion.
Other than that, Dogs should be careful of sharp objects, especially in June. They should also take care of their family’s safety.
Healthy months are: Lunar March (April 16-May 14), June (July 13-August 10) and September (Oct 9-Nov 7).
Months where Dogs must be careful with their health are: Lunar January (Feb 16-March 16), April (May 15-June 13) and October (Nov 8-Dec 6).
The social life this year will be full of headaches. There are arguments both at home and outside. Dogs must communicate and resolve conflicts. Otherwise, they may find themselves alone by the end of the year.
The sweet months are: Lunar March (April 16-May 14), September (Oct 9-Nov 7) and December (Jan 6-Feb 4, 2019).
Months where relationship problems will easily occur are: Lunar February (March 17-April 15), June (July 13-August 10), July (August 11-Sept 9) and August (Sept 30-Oct 8).
The directions of fortune and wealth for Dogs this year are the southeast, southwest and north. It would be the best to put the bed, worktable and sofa in these positions of the room.
To avoid bad luck, do not put important furniture in the south and east.
Lucky numbers that will open the road to wealth are 4 and 6.
The lucky colors in 2018 are yellow, red and orange. Decorating the home or wearing these colors will help greatly with changing luck for the better. Colors to avoid are green and gray.
Overall, this is a year that Dogs must get through.
It’s the Chinese tradition to wear red underwear every day during their zodiac year. Dogs can try this to ward off the bad luck.
Once past this year, Dogs can continue on their steady and quiet road to happiness.
Chinese New Year Clothes
In the Republican period (1912-1949), beautiful new clothes were needed as the youth paid their respects to the elders. It’s a part of Spring Festival celebrations, just like the New Year’s Eve reunion dinner. You might be able to guess why.
The Spring Festival is a time of change and new beginnings. Practically every activity during the Spring Festival has the purpose of removing the old and welcoming the new.
Forget about the misfortunes and be ready for good luck. In addition, new clothes are auspicious and can protect you from evil spirits.
Like the New Year couplets and other decorations, new clothes also add to the festivity. In the past, China was an agrarian society. There was only 1 harvest per year in the north and 2-3 in the south.
Throughout the entire year, people scrimped and saved.
But during Chinese New Year, people can finally splurge and treat themselves. This side of new clothes is a little lost on the younger generations.
But it’s a sign that the current standard of living is higher than before. Still, it’s important to be aware of the historical significance.
How and when?
You can buy yourself new clothes. But often, they will be given as gifts from the family. Because it’s a sign of a fresh start, it’s best to wear your new attire on New Year’s Day.
There actually aren’t any special requirements as to what kind of new clothing. In ancient China, people would follow the fashion trends of that time. There’s nothing wrong with you doing the same as well.
But if you want to have more of a traditional flare, there are some styles you can choose from. Most traditional-wear still popular today are from the Qing dynasty.
Tang suit used to refer to dress from the Tang dynasty. But the “new” Tang suit is a jacket that combines the Man riding jacket (Qing dynasty) and the Western suit.
If you’re a fan of Chinese martial arts, you might have seen this type of clothing in movies. Jackie Chan especially seems to like wearing them. The Tang suit was also the “dress code” for the 2001 APEC meeting.
Men’s: Chinese Classic Jacket
Women’s: Women’s Tang Zhuang
It has an upturned collar and straight lapels. The suit features traditional Chinese knots (frog buttons). The material is usually brocade, a luxury fabric in ancient times.
Originally, it was seamless between the body and sleeves. This allowed for comfortable movement, but the looseness doesn’t quite fit modern aesthetics.
Most Tang suits nowadays are modified and tailored. Many have auspicious symbols and words embroidered into the shirt.
The qipao entered mainstream Chinese culture during the Qing dynasty. But the modern styles we know today are very different from how it was originally. It began as a conservative dress with straight and loose cuts.
Intricate designs were embroidered into the fabric. Through colonization, the qipao became westernized.
Starting in the mid-1800s until now, the changes go back and forth. Styles swing between long and short, tight and loose. Nowadays, the qipao is usually very tight-fitting (it’s recommended to get the dress custom-made).
Openings can start as high up as the thigh.
However, modern styles still preserve the stiff straight collar and frog buttons. Popular embroidered designs include flowers, birds and phoenixes.
The term cheongsam is usually used by Westerners to refer to women’s qipao. However, it literally means long shirt/dress. It is loose-fitting and usually worn by men now.
Cheongsam, it is a modified version of Qing dynasty clothing and was formal wear during the 1900s. The cut for the sideways lapel symbolizes wealth and prosperity.
The length of the cheongsam also represents status, since longer clothing is unsuitable for physical labor. In the Republican era, it was the clothing of educated scholars.
Hanfu translates literally to clothing of the Han ethnicity. It encompasses traditional clothing up until the Qing dynasty. This means too many types and variations to count.
Partiss Embroidered Hanfu, Generally, a hanfu outfit includes a shirt and a skirt. The shirt has crossed lapels and the sleeves are long and wide. The skirt is long and sometimes starts above the bosom.
Tang dynasty hanfu influenced the Japanese kimono, while the Ming dynasty influenced the Korean hanbok.
The elegant cuts and fresh colors will bring something unique to your wardrobe. There are also modern versions, including shorter skirts and more Western elements.
If you’re looking for something dressier and eye-catching, hanfu is the answer.
Rhinestone Crystal Hair Accessory, in ancient times, men were not allowed to go without a headdress. That’s not necessary anymore though. You can choose whatever handsome hairstyle you’d like.
There are fancier choices for women. Using chopsticks as hair accessories is a misconception. Instead, ornate wands are used. They usually taper off to an intricate design, inlaid with jewels, and trinkets hang off the end.
If you wear a hanfu, you can also add a pendant to the waistband.
When buying clothes for Chinese New Year, go for red. This is the best color for the occasion. Stay away from black and white, as they are unlucky and negative.
Also remember that new clothes are a set part of Spring Festival celebrations, but it’s not necessary to wear a full traditional gear to a dinner party.
The Tang suit is the most popular choice. Qipaos are also accepted, although the nature of the dress isn’t the best for the winter season. The hanfu and cheongsam is regaining popularity, but is still not as widely accepted.
Be careful of cultural appropriation when wearing traditional clothing of another culture. Many native Chinese are okay with it. In fact, they’ll be delighted if they see foreigners in traditional clothing.
However, many Chinese expats in other countries find it uncomfortable. If a Chinese friend is the host or guest of the party, it’ll never hurt to ask them how they feel about it.
Other than that, welcome the coming year with a fresh new look and a smile.
Chinese New Year Dishes
Family is the basis of the Chinese society, which is seen through the significance placed on the New Year’s Eve dinner or Nian yefan and Reunion dinner or tuan nianfan. This feast is extremely important to the Chinese.
All family members must come back. Even if they truly can’t, the rest of the family will leave their spot empty and place a spare set of utensils for them.
In the legend of the Spring Festival’s origin, this was when the monster Nian would come and terrorize the villages. The people would hide in their homes, prepare a feast with offerings to the ancestors and gods, and hope for the best.
Steamed Chicken or zheng ji
A whole chicken is another symbol of family. Rich in protein, one chicken is enough to feed an entire family. It represents reunion and rebirth. To express this auspicious meaning, people keep the head and claws.
After cooking, people will first offer the chicken to the ancestors. Though only a superstition now, praying to the ancestors for blessings and protection is still a significant part of the Spring Festival and Chinese culture.
In Hubei, chicken soup is the first meal of the new year. It is a wish for peace. The main workers of the family should eat chicken feet, also called phoenix claws or feng zhua.
This is supposed to help them grasp onto wealth. Chicken wings help you fly higher, while the bones represent outstanding achievement.
For the first meal, some also cook eggs. The egg white and yolk represent gold and silver and are simple gifts for friends and neighbors.
Nian gao, also known as rice cake or New Year cake in English, are a must for Chinese New Year.
In ancient times, nian gao were used only as offerings to the ancestors and gods. Gradually, they became a traditional dish during the Spring Festival.
Now they are available every day of the year, but are still a special treat for the festival.
Nian gao also has the same pronunciation as gao – tall/high. It’s a wish to be successful and higher each year.
Every year will be better than the last. Some humorous parents like to tell their children that eating this will help them grow taller too.
They are either made of sticky glutinous rice or yellow rice, giving nian gao two major colors and textures.
Nian gao was already popular during the Wei and Jin dynasties (220-420). But after more than two thousand years of development, there are a crazy amount of variations.
Nian gao from northern regions and the south almost seem like entirely different things.
They are typically are savory in the South. Store bought nian gao are hard and must be boiled first. They are then steamed or cooked with vegetables and meat.
A common dish includes Chinese cabbage, salted vegetables and thin strips of pork. Prepared like this, nian gao are a substitute for rice or noodles.
Rather than the usual batter, sugar can be added to the glutinous rice powder to make the sweet nian gao favored by the North. The batter can also include lard, rose petals, osthmanthus, hibiscus and mint for extra flavoring.
For the ones with a true sweet tooth, it’s also acceptable to directly dip nian gao in white sugar.
Northern style nian gao are more like desserts and snacks.
In Beijing, the types seen are jujube nian gao, hundred fruit nian gao and white nian gao. Jujube has the same pronunciation as early, while hundred fruit nian gao represent a cornucopia of precious gems.
It’s common to steam nian gao with jujube and red beans in Hebei. On the other hand, people of Shanxi and Inner Mongoliao like to deep fry the batter and add fillings of red bean paste and mashed jujube.
Spring is the season to plant new seeds. Traditionally, the Spring Festival is the best time to finish all the vegetables stored and preserved from the winter.
A dish of all sorts of vegetables put together can always be seen on the table during New Years. This dish can be called tian yuan su xiao chao, or countryside vegetarian stir-fry.
Mushrooms, jujube and Chinese cabbage are often included, in addition to your typical greens.
Some symbolic vegetables to consider are:
Seaweed: symbolize wealth and fortune
Lotus seeds: a blessing for many children and a healthy family
Bamboo shoots: represent longevity, as well as going onward and up
Muskmelon and grapefruit: symbolize family and hope. In addition, grapefruit symbolizes wealth and prosperity
Osmanthus flower petals: in Chinese, osmanthus is a homophone, which means noble and precious
Leek/chives: leek sounds similar to, meaning long and everlasting
Poria mushrooms: another play on words, this mushroom sounds similar to fu lu, or blessings and fortune
The bubbling soup in the pot gives off a warm and festive feeling. Hot pot is another food that has a long history. Emperor Qianlong of the Qing dynasty is the most avid fan.
When he held feasts for old and retired officials, hot pot with meat were always on the menu. During his New Year’s Eve dinner, there were 120 dishes for lunch and even more for hot pot.
Despite being loved by commoners and royalty alike, hot pots are actually quite basic. It’s simply a bubbling pot and plates of uncooked meat and vegetables. You can choose whatever you like to throw into the pot.
Wait until it’s cooked, take it out and eat.
Part of the flavor comes from the broth you choose in the pot. The other part is your own dipping sauce. There are special hot pot sauces.
You can also make your own using one raw egg, sesame paste, salt, sugar, cilantro and peppers. Hot pot is an extremely customizable dish. Everything mentioned in this article can be included, even the noodles.
Some of the foods such as spring rolls and dumplings, can also be eaten outside of the main meal. Of course, there are many more snacks and desserts throughout the duration of the Spring Festival.
As the TV Show A Bite of China even if the other ancient traditions of the Spring Festival are modernized, the food culture will never disappear.
Everyone brings out their specialty dishes for the feast. Food is one of the things that the Chinese take the most pride in. And of course, lot of care and thought is put into the menu for the most important holiday of the year.
As with Chinese New Year activities and decorations, the dishes are created to give blessings for the next year. Both the names and looks are symbols of wishes for prosperity, happiness and auspiciousness.
Though every region or even household have different customs, there are some common dishes seen on every table.
Eggrolls are probably the most well-known of Chinese cuisine. However, they’re actually spring rolls. They are eaten during the Spring Festival in Southern China to celebrate the coming of spring.
More specifically, they are eaten on the first day of spring or li chun. They can appear on the table as a dinner dish, appetizer or snack.
Because they look like bars of gold, spring rolls are a wish for prosperity and wealth.
Most are familiar with the deep fried version of spring rolls. Throughout China, they can also be steamed or baked. Size and shape vary from small rectangles to large flat circles.
During the Jin Dynasty (circa 265-420), people would arrange spring rolls and vegetables together on a plate.
This was known as the Spring Platter or chun pan. During the Spring Festival, emperors would award officials with Spring Platters. Each platter is said to have been worth thousands.
Spring roll skins are made of flour, water and some salt. The filling depends on your personal taste. Traditionally, the filling is made of pork, Chinese cabbage, shiitake, carrots and seasoning.
For those with a sweet tooth, there are Shangainese style red bean paste spring rolls. Now, there are even ice cream fillings.
To make, create the filling of your choice. Place around 2 spoons onto the center of the spring roll skin. Tuck in the sides and roll it up, sealing the edges with egg whites.
Finish by throwing them into the deep fryer until the skin is golden and crispy.
Another well-known dish, dumplings are the northern equivalent of spring rolls. They are eaten during every special occasion, but are the most significant during Chinese New Year. That’s a lot of dumplings. But there’s good reason.
Dumplings are shaped like ancient Chinese silver and gold ingots. By wrapping dumplings, you are wrapping in the fortune. After eating them, you will live a wealthy and prosperous life.
In Chinese, dumplings or jiao zi sounds like jiao zi. Jiao means exchange and zi is the midnight hours. Put together, jiao zi is the exchange between the old and new year. All dumplings should be wrapped at this time.
By eating dumplings, you are sending away the old and welcoming the new.
Dumplings are steamed but they can be pan-fried too and called pot stickers or guo tie.
There are too many different types of filling to count. You can have whatever type of meat, vegetable and flavor you’d like.
Typically, they include Chinese cabbage, green onion, pork and shrimp just similar to spring rolls.
In the Suzhou province, egg fillings are a must. The dumpling symbolizes the silver ingot, while the egg is gold.
Meat and bamboo strip filling is called si si qi qi, which means that everything needed will be available.
Some people will also put a coin in a random dumpling. Whoever eats it will have great luck that year.
In addition to the joy of eating delicious food, the making process is a family bonding activity too. During New Year preparations, every member of the family participates and wraps dumplings.
In certain regions, the daughter-in-law must make a dumpling to be considered part of the family.
Though the origin of noodles is heavily disputed, there’s no doubt that noodles are a staple in Chinese cuisine.
There are all types of noodles: long, short, dry, vegetarian, meat, and more. They can also be made of flour, rice or even green bean powder.
In the beginning, they were called soup pancakes or tang mian. People would tear the dough into little pieces and throw them into the pot. It wasn’t until the Tang Dynasty when people began rolling them into the noodle shape we know today.
For Chinese New Year, people like to eat long noodles.
They are also called chang shou mian, which means longevity noodles. You aren’t allowed to cut them and should try not to chew either. The longer the noodle, the longer your life will be. This calls for a lot of slurping.
With noodles, there is great flexibility for sides and ingredients. Many vegetables and meats have symbolic meanings as well.
Eggs: big and healthy family
Lobster: endless money rolling in
Shrimp: fortune and wealth
Roasted pig: peace
Tofu: happiness and fortune for the entire family
Fish: surplus and wealth
The typical blessing is Nian nian youyu, wishing you to have a surplus or fish of food and money every year.
Half of the fish is eaten for dinner, and the second half the next day. This is to prolong the surplus and make the future prosperous as well. A whole fish also represents a harmonious and whole family.
Some would cook a bigheaded carp. But only the middle would be eaten, while the head and tail are left intact.
The Chinese phrase is you tou you wei, to have both a head and tail. This is a reminder to finish everything you start and wish for positive results. During dinner, the fish head should be placed facing the guests.
In Hunan, red peppers are added after broiling the fish. Red is a festive and lucky color and the spicy hotness expresses wishes for fiery thriving business in the new year.
Chinese New Year Drinks
China is famous worldwide for tea. It was originally a medicine, and then slowly entered everyday life as a relaxing drink. It is one of the first things the Chinese offer to guests.
But during Chinese New Year, you’ll be drinking a lot more of something else: alcohol. The wine culture in China is just as long and just as important as tea. Perhaps even more so.
Significance of Wine in China, Alcohol was discovered in China a couple thousand years ago. As an agrarian society, the first alcoholic drinks were made from fermented grain.
Later, fruits and berries, flower petals and milk were all used as ingredients.
Depending on the quality of harvests, the ancient government set different restrictions on alcohol production. Some years, it was banned entirely. Usually, breweries were all government-owned.
In traditional Chinese medicine, wine was often used. It’s also known as bai yao zhi zhang, meaning alcohol is the leader of all medicine. Many prescriptions have scientifically proven benefits and are still used today.
Other potions sound like things from fantasy stories. Ingredients included snake gall, scorpions and more.
But alcohol is mostly used for socializing. What’s better than drinking with friends?
More than that, wine is used in practically every ceremony or event. Wine must be offered to ancestors and gods. You must drink with your new in-laws during a wedding. And you must have alcohol during holidays.
Wine and Drinks in Festivals
Alcohol or jiu is a homophone of long-lasting. During festivals, people will drink to everlasting friendships, happiness and other wishes.
And we all know how good alcohol can make you feel, if you can hold your liquor.
So it’s really no surprise that alcohol is a staple in Chinese celebrations. There are even different drinks designated for the different holidays.
During the Dragon Boat Festival or duan wu jie, you should drink sweet sedge wine. For the Double Nine Festival or zhong yang jie, chrysanthemum wine is the drink. As for the Spring Festival, you should drink nianjiu. Literally translated, it means year alcohol.
Spring Festival Wines and Drinks
The most important meal of the year is the New Year’s Eve reunion dinner. You may not have dumplings, fish or hot pot, but every household will have wine on the table.
There’s no enforced drinking age in China. Everyone in the family will at least take a sip on that night. Not only is it an enjoyable drink, it’s believed that the alcohol can protect from bad luck as well.
The Chinese will drink during dinner. And after, they’ll continue drinking as they wait for midnight to come. Then when they pay New Year visits or have guests come over, alcohol is brought out again.
But despite or due to the importance of nianjiu, there isn’t a specific type. Each household can have their own unique alcoholic beverage that they drink yearly.
White Wine or baijiu
The most common alcohol is Chinese white wine, or baijiu. The name comes from its clear color. Because it is usually made from fermented sorghum, it is also known as white sorghum wine. Wheat, barley and glutinous rice are among the alternatives.
Although similar to other East Asian drinks, baijiu is much stronger and more similar to vodka. You’ll find baijiu sold in glass or ceramic bottles. And just like vodka, shot glasses are used for drinking.
Moutai is the most well-known brand of baijiu in China.
There are both flavored and unflavored baijiu. A popular unflavored drink is er guo tou. The most well-known flavored baijiu is probably Moutai. There are also two types of baijiu that play a significant role in Chinese New Year celebrations.
Tusu wine, a type of baijiu, was the nianjiu in ancient times. The name comes from the tusu style building it was created in. It’s also called suijiu.
Tusu wine ingredients can include cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, aconite, monkshood and other spices.
The story goes that every year, a man would give his neighbors a bag of the medicinal ingredients. He told them to soak it in water and drink it on New Year’s Day. They found that the water protected them from the plague.
What’s significant about tusu wine is the drinking order. According to Chinese customs, the eldest of the family must give their blessings and drink first. But with tusu wine, it’s the opposite. Children are allowed to go first.
According to a scholar from the Jin Dynasty (265-420), children grow one year older during the Spring Festival. It is something to celebrate. But there’s nothing celebrating about seniors losing one year.
Jiao wine adds flowers of Sichuan peppers and cypress tree leaves to baijiu. Like tusu, children are the first to drink jiao wine.
The beverage symbolizes peace, health and longevity. It is used as an offering to the ancestors. Parents also use jiao wine to give New Year blessings.
Drinking customs and etiquette
Do you know how to say cheers in Chinese? Gan bei.
But there is more to Chinese toasts than that. There are also more rules than just the aforementioned drinking order.
Toasting goes in order of rank and/or age. For extremely formal dinners, there’s even an emcee so everything can run smoothly.
When toasting, you should hold the glass with your right hand and support it with your left. While clinking glasses with someone higher than you in either aspect, make sure your glass is lower.
If you’re sitting too far away, raise the glass and tap it against the side of the table.
Even if you become slightly tipsy, you still need to pay attention to politeness and respect.
Drinking Games, When you drink with friends, you can definitely have fun. Chinese drinking games are separated into two: sophisticated and common.
Sophisticated games or ya ling, also known as word games or wen zi ling, these were loved by the nobles of ancient times. Basically, they would gather around and create poetry or tell riddles.
If someone couldn’t answer or come up with a line, they would drink as punishment.
Other times, wine was the reward. Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty would order his officials to create poems. Each one must come up with a line containing seven words and each line had to rhyme.
Otherwise, they wouldn’t even be allowed a seat for the banquet. Many classic poems were written in this manner. You can have a try at these literary games too.
Common games are more lighthearted, but they get intense with drunken competitive folks. The most popular are hand gesture guessing games, such as rock, paper, scissors, it’s debated whether the game originated from China or Japan.
Usually, the Chinese would play something called hua quan. You can either put out a fist or a certain number of fingers. Who loses depends on the rules, which you can create yourself.
For some, you must call out the number as you put out your hand. If you’re right, then you win. For others, you have to try for an auspicious number, usually 6 or 8 and say a blessing to go along with it.
You can also have a mini tournament. Choose the best drinker out of your group as the king. He drinks first to announce the opening. Those who wish to challenge him will drink with him and then play the finger guessing game.
If the challenger wins, he takes the place as king. Dice guessing games, silent games, card games, spin-the-bottle, truth or dare and more are played as well.
Tsingtao beer is a very popular brand, especially along the eastern coastal cities.
The country also contains 56 ethnicities, many of which are famous for drinking alcohol. Inner Mongolians love horse milk wine. Butter tea or su you cha, derived from milk, is commonly seen in Tibet.
After dinner, try a bowl of Xinjiang yoghurt or xin jiang suan nai to aid with digestion and make room for dessert.
The Yao ethnicity has a tradition of drinking New Year celebration wine or he nian jiu. In the last lunar month, every household gives 1 kilogram of grains to the leader of the community to make wine.
Couples who gave birth in the past year will bring their baby, as well as wine, tofu and pork around the community to give blessings.
China is the top producer of tea and has influenced the tea culture worldwide. But you won’t see it as often during the Spring Festival.
To brew and drink tea the traditional way, you must settle down and enjoy it. It’s not very suitable for revelries.
However, after New Year’s Day, you must start visiting your friends and neighbors. At this time, people will bring out their tea to treat their guests. In the lull between celebrations, you can rest with tea as well.
To lower cholesterol and aid in digestion after the feasts, try Pu’er tea or pu er cha. Green tea or lu cha and oolong tea wu long cha are great after eating greasy and oily food. And guess what? Tea is great for hangovers.
Other than drinks, Chinese New Year also offers a rich food culture. There’s great meaning behind the various dishes, desserts and snacks. Everything works together to express people’s wishes and blessings for the new spring and new year.
Chinese New Year Taboos
The Spring Festival is a time of celebration. It’s to welcome the new year with a smile and let the fortune and happiness continue on.
At the same time, the Spring Festival involves somber ceremonies to wish for a good harvest. Strict rules and restrictions go without saying.
To help you with that, here are the top 10 taboos during the Chinese New Year. Follow these and fortune will smile on you.
Do not say negative words
All words with negative connotations are forbidden! These include: death, sick, empty, pain, ghost, poor, break, kill and more.
The reason behind this should be obvious. You wouldn’t want to jinx yourself or bring those misfortunes onto you and your loved ones.
Do not break ceramics or glass
Breaking things will break your connection to prosperity and fortune. If a plate or bowl is dropped, immediately wrap it with red paper while murmuring auspicious phrases. Some would say sui sui píng an.
This asks for peace and security every year. sui is also a homophone which means broken or shattered. After the New Year, throw the wrapped up shards into a lake or river.
Do not clean or sweep
Before the Spring Festival, there is a day of cleaning. That is to sweep away the bad luck. But during the actual celebration, it becomes a taboo. Cleaning or throwing out garbage may sweep away good luck instead.
If you must, make sure to start at the outer edge of a room and sweep inwards. Bag up any garbage and throw it away after the 5th day. Similarly, you shouldn’t take a shower on Chinese New Year’s Day.
Do not use scissors, knives or other sharp objects
There are 2 reasons behind this rule. Scissors and needles shouldn’t be used. In olden times, this was to give women a well-deserved break.
Sharp objects in general will cut your stream of wealth and success. This is why 99% of hair salons are closed during the holidays. Hair cutting is taboo and forbidden until Lunar February 2, when all festivities are over.
Do not visit the wife’s family
Traditionally, multiple generations live together. The bride moves into the groom’s home after marriage. And, of course, she will celebrate Chinese New Year with her in-laws.
Returning to her parents on New Year’s Day means that there are marriage problems and may also bring bad luck to the entire family. The couple should visit the wife’s family on the 2nd day.
They’d bring their children, as well as a modest gift because it’s the thought that counts.
Do not demand debt repayment
This custom is a show of understanding. It allows everyone a chance to celebrate without worry. If you knock on someone’s door, demanding repayment, you’ll bring bad luck to both parties.
However, it’s fair game after the 5th day. Borrowing money is also taboo. You could end up having to borrow the entire year.
Avoid fighting and crying
Unless there is a special circumstance, try not to cry. But if a child cries, do not reprimand them. All issues should be solved peacefully.
In the past, neighbors would come over to play peacemaker for any arguments that occurred. This is all to ensure a smooth path in the new year.
Avoid taking medicine
Try not to take medicine during the Spring Festival to avoid being sick the entire year. Of course, if you are chronically ill or contract a sudden serious disease, immediate health should still come first.
Related taboos:< - Don’t visit the doctor - Don’t perform/undergo surgery - Don’t get shots Do not give New Year blessings to someone still in bed
You are supposed to give New Year blessings or bai nian. But let the recipient get up from bed first. Otherwise, they’ll be bed-ridden for the entire year. You also shouldn’t tell someone to wake up.
You don’t want them to be rushed around and bossed around for the year. Take advantage of this and sleep in.
Chinese gift-giving taboos
It was mentioned above that you should bring gifts when paying visits. It’s the thought that counts, but some gifts are forbidden.
Clocks are the worst gifts. Gifting clocks or song zhong is a homophone of paying one’s last respects. Splitting pears or fen li is also a homophone of separation.
Some regions have their own local taboos too. For example, in Mandarin, apple is pronounced ping guo. But in Shanghainese, it is bing1 gu, which sounds like passed away from sickness.
These don’t just apply to the Spring Festival, so keep it in the back of your mind.
For the Spring Festival, these rules may seem excessive. Especially when you add in the cultural norms, customs and manners. But like a parent would say, they are all for your own good.
Formed over thousands of years, these taboos embody the beliefs, wishes and worries of the Chinese people.