7 Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year

By Samantha Scott
January 25, 2017

Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year, The Spring Festival. Whatever name you know it by, this time of year is one of great celebration among the Chinese population, and there are many places around the world where you can experience it. 

2017 is the year of the Fire Rooster, the tenth of the twelve animals on the Lunar Calendar. Those born in this year are typically trustworthy, dependable, resourceful, confident, and responsible. Lucky numbers are 5, 7, 8, and lucky colors are gold, brown, and yellow.

Famous people born in this year include: Bob Marley, Jennifer Aniston, Martin Luther King III, Donny Osmond, and Hans Zimmer.

Chinese New Year History and Traditions (in a nutshell)

Lion Dance, China

Alexandre Lavrov via Flickr

How did Chinese New Year start? In ancient China, it was believed that at the new year, a wild beast known as Nien went on the rampage killing villagers and leaving destruction in his wake. The traditions of Chinese New Year were born out of the many tricks people used to keep Nien away. These included loud noises and offerings of food. 

Nien was also discovered to have a strong aversion to the color red, leading to the heavy use of red in Chinese traditional dress and symbolism. 

Chinese New Year celebrations typically last over 7 days, but they do vary across the world. Usually an element of “spring cleaning” enters into the festivities as well as a large reunion meal with extended family and offerings made to ancestors.

Traditional foods include dumplings, fish, spring rolls, Nian gao (a chewy sweet glutinous rice cake), and tangyuan (sweet or savory rice balls in a sweet broth).

See all tours to China

Chinese food

Firecrackers are set off, and parades with boisterous lion dancers moving to loud, joyful music are a staple of Chinese New Year celebrations. Nien would be frightened indeed! And perhaps part of this tradition is an effort to keep children happy and entertained, as it is believed a crying child on New Years will bring bad luck to the family. 

Delicate paper lanterns are strung by the hundreds creating an other-worldly glow of soft light. 

Chinese Lantern

aotaro via Flickr

Where Should You Celebrate Chinese New Year?

Chinese New Year1. New York 

The Lunar New Year parade in Lower Manhattan is a colorful, constant stream of lions draped in in swaths of red as they dance down the city streets to vibrant music. And the Hudson will light up with fireworks to usher in the New Year.

New York New York Guided Tours

2. London 

London hosts one of the largest Chinese New Year celebrations outside of Asia. Expect numerous performances, including the famous lion dances and other traditional presentations. The events draw very big crowds, and take place in several different areas of London. Some are simultaneous so be sure to have a plan in mind for the day and get there early!  

London London Guided Tours

3. Sydney 

Strings of large colorful lanterns, representing the signs of the zodiac, is a major draw of the festival in Sydney. They will be strung across the famous Sydney harbor, where art installations and live entertainment are on display.

Syndey Sydney Guided Tours

4. Hong Kong 

Hong Kong has one of the largest Chinese New Year celebrations in the world. This is definitely a bucket list item! It is a televised event, with non-stop entertainment including illuminated floats, and multiple music and dance performances from international artists. 

Hong Kong Hong Kong Guided Tours

5. San Francisco 

San Francisco has one of the largest Asian populations in the US, due in large part to the Gold Rush of 1849. The first Chinese New Years parade in the city was held in 1858, eight years after California’s statehood. To date, the celebration of Chinese New Year in San Francisco is still the largest Asian cultural event in North America.

San Francisco San Francisco Guided Tours

 

6. Singapore 

An enormous celebration can be found in Singapore, with observance of several traditional customs, street performers, and hundreds of stalls selling food and trinkets. For tourists, this is one of the lesser known Chinese New Year celebrations, but well worth attending if you're after a souvenir or two! 

Singapore Singapore Guided Tours

 

7. Beijing 

For Chinese on the mainland, everything shuts down for the whole week, starting on Feb 8th. Fireworks and festivities are going on all the time. But mostly it is a time for people to visit with their families and worship at the temples. Tourists should be aware that all banks and major institutions are closed during this time, so be prepared for that if you choose to go!

Beijing, China Beijing Guided Tours



Ready to attend one of these Chinese New Year celebrations around the world? Search here to find your perfect trip:

 
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2486 Views    2 Comments
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By Jared Alster
February 8, 2016 at 10:00 PM
San Francisco is hands down the best place to celebrate. One of the best China towns anywhere, any time of the year, but especially during Chinese NY!
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By Courtney Kantowski
February 21, 2016 at 6:43 PM
Such a great list! It would be quite the experience to celebrate Chinese New Year in China! Yesterday I watched the parade in San Francisco, and it was incredible!
Reply

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