3 Things to Remember on Chinese New Year


The Year of the Fire Rooster is upon us! This year the 28th January (a.k.a. 1st day of the 1st month of the Lunar year) will see all the festivities happening and we’ve got three top tips on how to celebrate the traditional way.

If you’re a rooster sign (check here!), that means your lucky colours are gold, brown and yellow… so it’s maybe time to rethink that wardrobe in some earthy tones. It also means you’re an honest, energetic, intelligent, flexible, and confident type of person. Oh shucks.

Even if this year isn’t your sign, you can still impress your peng you (friends) by following our handy guide to greetings, customs and food.


Gong Hei Fa Choi

Gong Hei Fa Choi is a Cantonese phrase that literally means “Wishing you get rich”.

A sentiment we can really get on board with!

These four little Chinese idioms or characters are clever fellows. You can make up countless ways to greet people using them, and they all have a positive meaning behind them.

Here’s some examples… See how many you can say in one breath:

  • Happy New Year- “xīn nián kuài lè” (新年快)
  • Wish you wealth and prosperity.-  “gōng xǐ fā cái” (恭喜发财)
  • May wealth come pouring in- “cái yuán gǔn gǔn” (財源滾滾)
  • May you have abundance every year. – “nián nián yǒu yú” (年年有餘
  • May all your wishes come true. – “xīn xiǎng shì chéng” (心想事成)
  • May everything go as you wish-  “wàn shì rú yì” (万事如意)


Prepare your Hong Bao

Chinese New Year customs vary across China. But you’re almost always guaranteed to see Hong Bao (red packets) around.

This tradition sees people stuffing red envelopes with cash to be exchanged at every meeting during the Chinese New Year. Sounds good to us!

There’s a couple of rules to remember…

If you’re married, you must be the generous one and hand a little red packet over to others. But if you’re single, you’re eligible to receive them still. So maybe until the 28th is over, put Tinder on hold?

And remember – if a little kid comes up to you, all wide-eyed and cute, it’s your choice (but you should probably hand over the Hong Bao).


Get home in time for dinner!

Another custom across China is to be home for dinner before the new year arrives. This is a curfew you’ll want to keep though, because the new year is usually celebrated with loads of food, exchanging red packets, and even a bit of gambling!

As you watch the countdown on TV make sure you tune into Spring Festival National Programme Chun Wan (春晚). It’s the most watched show of the year!

You might also want to try out some dumplings or jiao zi (子) to really get a taste of north and northeast Chinese traditions. People chow down on their mother’s homemade jiao zi, which are usually filled with comforting pork and veggies.

And once the TV is turned off (and the gambling has calmed down), it’s time to crack out the Majong tiles (麻将). This is a fave Chinese game, played by 4 people at a time (although expect a lot of advice from others around the table)!

So, that’s our three top tips. Make sure you’ve got your greetings down, your red envelopes stuffed, the TV powered up and you’re ready to go!


Emma was a French Language Expert at Busuu. Originally from London, U.K, Emma moved to Brighton to study Anthropology and Languages (French and Spanish) and later spent time living on the French overseas department, La Réunion. In her spare time she loves travel and culture, crochet, cooking and singing!


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