Happy upcoming Chinese New Year, or xīn nián kuài lè (新年快乐) in Mandarin. The lunar Chinese New Year officially begins on Friday, February 16th. This year, we enter into the Year of the Dog in the Chinese Zodiac calendar, meaning 2018 will hopefully be filled with loyalty, enthusiasm, independence, and productivity. But before we dive into the year ahead, it’s important to learn a bit about what traditionally happens when the Chinese New Year comes around.
Chinese culture is based on manners and respect, especially regarding respect for elders. Greetings and blessings, collectively called bài nán (拜年), are key components of New Year celebrations. Families must visit and bring gifts to the elders on the husband’s side first, according to ChineseNewYear2018.com.
The elders will then give the younger family members red envelopes filled with money, called yā suì qián (压岁钱), which translates to “money to anchor the year.” This gift also symbolizes good fortune. When receiving the yā suì qián, recipients must kowtow, kē tóu (磕头), to the elders three times by kneeling and placing one’s head on the floor. This act is, once again, a sign of respect.
A traditional New Year’s Eve dinner is one of the most important events of the Lunar New Year as it kicks off the 15-day Spring Festival.
Many families eat jiaozi dumplings on New Year’s Eve. These little treats look like ancient money, and they’re eaten to bring wealth and luck into the upcoming year. They’re usually stuffed with a variety of fillings, and some fillings are used to symbolize different blessings.
During the 15 days of the Spring Festival, celebrants will watch firework displays, attend temple fairs and lantern shows, and spend time with family and friends.
Keep in mind that these are only a few of the various Chinese New Year traditions families take part in. Once you brush up on the customs, go out and wish your friends a very Happy New Year, xīn nián hao, a Happy Spring Festival, chūn jié kuài lè, and good luck, dà jí dà lì, in the coming year.