Chinese New Year activities --

Celebrating Chinese New Year
in the Year of the Dog 2006

What are the Chinese New Year activities for celebrating this most important festival in the Chinese calendar?

First, let me wish everyone

"Happy Chinese New Year and May All Things Go Smoothly for You!"

新年快乐, 万事如意!

Go ahead, pick up your Chinese New Year card here!

Chinese New Year activities: Latest Chinese New Year Updates:

In this space, you'll find

  • information on how Chinese families all around the world (like mine in Singapore) celebrate Chinese New Year -- what they do before, during and at the end of Chinese New Year
  • suggestions on how you can prepare for and celebrate Chinese New Year

This year, 2006 is the Year of the Dog -- the 11th animal of the Chinese Zodiac.

To celebrate the year of the dog, here are some Year of the Dog ideas.

People born in the Year of the Dog are known to be honest, faithful, sincere, respectful and enjoy helping people. yours truly!

Chinese New Year activities: Let's start at the beginning...

In China, Chinese New Year is called the Spring Festival.

That’s because the first day of Chinese New Year falls on the start of spring.

But why is it that Chinese New Year always falls on a different day each year?

I've always wondered that and finally I figured it out.

The beginning of spring is a fresh start…

It's the start of a new year of sowing and reaping

A wish for a good harvest in the year ahead. (that's how the Chinese character for "year" nian2 年 came about.)

A cause for celebration!

All around the world, Chinese families

put up Chinese New Year scrolls on both sides of the door,

set off firecrackers (it's illegal in many Chinese cities now, but people do it anyway)

and married adults give children red envelopes filled with “lucky money”.

Chinese New Year activities begin 2-4 weeks before the "big day".

Chinese New Year activities: You can "do" what Chinese families do for Chinese New Year:

  • Clean up the house
  • Families select a day and together clean up the house.

    This yearly ritual gets rid of bad luck in the ending year and welcomes in good luck in the new year.

  • Send greeting cards
  • Greeting cards with new year wishes are sent to friends, relatives and colleagues.

    Remember to post your greeting cards early!

  • Go shopping
  • Young and old go on a shopping spree to buy new clothes for the whole family, food and delicacies, and festive home decorations.

    Remember to get some red packets ready.

    Looking for Chinese new Year activity books for kids?

  • Decorate the house
  • Families hang spring couplets on both sides of the door to usher in good wishes for the new year.

    And paste paper cuts of upside down “fu2” 福, happy children and tangerine oranges on the walls.

    Vases of flowers are a favorite decoration in the home during Chinese New Year.

    They add a new year atmosphere to the home.

    Living plants symbolize growth. Flowers represent wealth and prosperity.

    Pum blossoms can be arranged together with bamboo and pine.

    Other favorite flowers are pussy willow,azalea, peony and water lily or narcissus.

    Chinese people believe that without flowers, there would not be any fruit.

    Therefore, flowers and floral decorations are a "must-have" in the home during Chinese New Year.

  • Make Offerings to the Kitchen God
  • You don't have to do this, but this is what Chinese families do.

    A week before Chinese New Year, Chinese families make offerings of chicken, sweets and sticky rice cake to the Kitchen God.

    (This practice is more common in Southern China and South East Asia)

    Why? So he’ll say good things about your household when he makes his yearly report to the Heavenly King!

    And keep mum about the "bad things".

  • Prepare the reunion dinner
  • At last, all is set for the reunion dinner tuan2 yuan2 fan4 团圆饭 on Chinese New Year’s eve.

    Family members from near and far gather for this most important and sumptuous meal of the year.

    The feast includes dishes like chicken, fish, oysters, dumplings, green vegetables and noodles which have meanings of prosperity, longevity and abundance.

    Here are some Chinese New Year recipes for you.

    And here's a list of “must-have” Chinese New Year food and what they symbolize.

  • Pass the year
  • After a hearty meal, everyone stays up late to “pass the year” guo4 nian2 过年 , an ancient tradition.

    They may watch TV, play card games, or chat.

    After midnight (or on the morning of Chinese New year's day.), parents give children red envelopes filled with money called “lucky money”.

    These red packets are kept under the pillow of children to as they are said to ward off evil.

Chinese New Year activities: Dos and Don'ts during Chinese New Year:

  • No sweeping of floors for the first few days of Chinese New year. Don’t sweep away good luck!
  • If you break something, immediately say “luo4 di4 ka1 hua1” 落地开花 “flower blossoms when it touches the floor” to reverse any bad luck!
  • No swearing or saying of negative and inauspicious words. (Or what you say may just come true!)
  • Conversely, say a lot of auspicious greetings, especially when visiting friends and relatives!
  • Among the Chinese New Year activities, the most important is called Chinese New Year greetings, or bai4 nian2. 拜年

    Everyone puts on their new clothes and visit their relatives and friends over the next two weeks.

    In the South, people bring along two big tangerines when they go on visits as this brings luck to the household.

    At each house, married adults give red packets to visiting children and anyone who is not yet married.

    Delicacies with lucky names have been prepared to serve guests.

  • The end of 15 days of Chinese New year activities culminates in the Lantern Festival.

Chinese New Year activities: Chinese New Year Links

Quite a few Chinese New Year sites are either down or have poor information.

Here are some good sites I've found with working links.

  1. This site has good Chinese New Year crafts activities for kids
  2. Read aloud these Chinese Folk Stories for kids
  3. Free Chinese recipes and cooking tips
  4. A good explanation of the Chinese calendar
  5. Send a Chinese New Year e-card