Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, is a much-loved time of year for Chinese people.
What you don’t often hear about in the West, however, are some of the other unique customs and rituals that are carried out to herald the new year.
I chatted to some Chinese people to get an insight into some of the more interesting ways Chinese New Year is celebrated.
1. Remove cobwebs
Cleaning, and sweeping away ‘bad luck’, is how many Chinese start the new year. But how far do people really go?
According to Kevin Yang, a Taiwan-born Chinese now residing in Melbourne, Australia, Chinese New Year is about a new beginning. This means cleaning the house from top to bottom.
“I make sure my house is spotlessly clean for the year ahead. I even remove the cobwebs,” he says.
Kevin Yang cleans his house, and even removes the cobwebs, for Chinese New Year.
2. Mulch plants
Like cleaning the house, enjoying a fresh start to the year can be as simple as giving the pot plants around the home some TLC.
“I couldn’t start the year without mulching my plants,” says Kevin.
3. Wear new clothes
Buying new things at the start of the year is another tradition for many.
Yuan He, from Fujian province, southeast China, likes to shop for new clothes.
“Wearing new red clothes is one of the ways I celebrate the new year,” she says.
So who does most of the buying? “My parents buy me the clothes,” Yuan He laughs.
4. Eat radish cake
Cooking and eating fish is one of the perennial favourites of Chinese New Year. This is because fish symbolizes prosperity. But it’s not the only thing you should eat if you want a successful start to the year.
Radish (or turnip) cake is another popular dish. Chinese radish, either the white-and-green variety or the all-white variety, is one of the key ingredients.
White radishes are a key ingredient for radish cake, a dish eaten at Chinese New Year.
“It’s one of my favourite foods to share with family and friends during Chinese New Year,” Kevin says.
5. Give money (until they marry!)
Yu Wang, from Shandong province, northern China, gives red envelopes full of money to children and senior family members to help ring in the new year.
“Chinese New Year is a very traditional festival and brings the family together. Giving red envelopes is one way our family celebrates it,” she says.
Yu Wang gives red envelopes at Chinese New Year.
According to Yu Wang, people are generally classified as children until they get married, which could be up to age 30.
“We’ll give our kids red envelopes until they marry,” she says.
So there you have it – five different and interesting things people do during Chinese New Year.
Are there any other Chinese New Year rituals you have heard of? Please comment below.