Things You Have to Know for Lunar New Year


Lunar New Year is coming but do you know what things you have to know or prepare and why? As time progresses, people are busier with their schedules, so some traditions are not applicable anymore. Here are some traditions that people are still following nowadays.

Every year before the start of Lunar New Year, lots of preparation works have to be done. For instance, people will go to buy nian gao (a sweet steamed glutinous rice pudding), carrot cakes and candies for serving the guests. They will also purchase flowers, especially daffodil and peach blossom. Apart from that, some red couplets are bought for decorations. People will also tidy up their houses, prepare red packets and food and buy new clothes. Therefore, you can feel the festive atmosphere and always hear ‘Lunar New Year is coming’ in every corner of Hong Kong. You can also see people getting busier in making themselves prettier, such as buying new clothes and having haircuts.

(Peach blossom as decoration. Photography: Christy Yu)

People love going Lunar New Year Fairs to feel the joyous and festive atmosphere, at the same time buying some new year goods or flowers for decoration.

(Crowds in the Lunar New Year Fair at Victoria Park. Photography: Christy Yu)

People have to clean their homes thoroughly before the 1st day of Lunar New Year since it implies the meaning of sweeping away the bad luck and bad things of last year. They then have to stop cleaning till the 5th day of Lunar New Year because people believe that the energy of wealth and prosperity will be driven away if people clean their houses in this period of time. After the 5th day, people can clean their houses and throw rubbish but they have to sweep their floor in a standardised direction. Sweeping from the outside (door side) to the inward direction, representing you are sweeping prosperities and wealth into your house.

(Sweeping floor from the outside to inside direction. Photography: Christy Yu)

On the 1st day of Lunar New Year, people have to visit their relatives (traditionally people visit the husband side; but now people abandon this and visit families according to their own schedules) and friends. Married couples have to give red packets to the younger ones and the younger ones have to say some blessings in return. Besides, in the Chinese legendary, there was a monster named Nian. Adults used fireworks to scare it away. Meanwhile, they gave candies and lucky money to comfort the children. And this is the story of having red packets and firework show in Lunar New Year.

(Red packets received in Lunar New Year. Photography: Christy Yu)

Besides visiting relatives, people have to eat ‘jai’, a vegetarian dish, which mostly includes lotus seed, ginkgo nut, black moss seaweed, bamboo shoots and dried bean curd. The choice of such ingredients are because of various superstition. For example, black moss seaweed is a homonym for getting wealthy in Cantonese. Also, bamboo shoot is a term that sounds like ‘all the best’.

There are also some other taboos that have to be aware of. People cannot say bad words as it is believed that it will bring the speaker bad luck for the whole year. People cannot touch knives or scissors to wish for a healthy body in the coming new year. That is why food have to be prepared (at least the cutting parts) before the new year’s eve. Fish head and tail should not be eaten since fish sounds like leftover in Cantonese. It symbolises that there will always be abundance in your life if you do not finish the whole fish. Noodles and mustard green cannot be cut as they symbolise a long life.

The above mentioned are some common things and traditions that people are still following in Hong Kong for Lunar New Year. There are still some days till the start of it, so you should have got some ideas on how to properly enjoy yourself in such an important and joyous festival. Now, just get yourself busy in preparing for it and wish you all a happy Lunar New Year!


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