Posted on 12 January 2017
As the year of the Rooster swiftly approaches, we take a look at some of our favourite Chinese New Year traditions.
Hong Bao Packets
Just when you think Christmas is over and all the presents have finished, along comes Chinese New Year and the famous red packets, or hong bao packets as they are correctly termed. Generally given by bosses to their staff and parents to their kids, the red and gold envelopes signal prosperity and good luck. Not sure how much to give? Well, keep in mind that any amount with four in it or odd numbers is considered bad luck in Chinese and also remember that given that this is the local season of giving, dig deep to show people how much you have appreciated throughout the year.
A good old clean
Now, we are not saying your house isn't clean, but take Chinese New Year as the perfect opportunity to give it that good old spring clean. Not just to satisfy our OCD leanings, but the Chinese believe that cleaning the house before new year gives way for plenty of new opportunities for the new year.
It's all in the decorations
While we are on the house front, Chinese New Year wouldn't be, well Chinese New Year, without decorations. Chinese red lanterns are believed to drive off bad luck, Kumquat trees, the ones that look like tiny oranges, are believed to bring good luck for the year ahead and wealth, door couplets are used to purvey best wishes while paper cuttings (Rooster themed given this is his year), are used to wish luck and happiness.
The Lion Dance
If you've lived in Asia longer than a year, you are sure to have seen, or at least heard, a lion dance. A magical performance accompanied by enough percussion and general noise to scare even the least observant among us, the dances aren't just for fun, the are designed to scare away evil and bad spirits from the year before and bring luck and prosperity for the year ahead.
The Salad Toss
We can't talk about Chinese New Year traditions without mentioning the good old salad toss, or, as it's more correctly known, yu sheng or lo hei. Made up of raw fish, pomelo, pepper, oil, carrots, shredded green radish, white radish, sesame seeds, plum sauce, peanut crumbs, and deep-fried crackers,each ingredient represents a different auspicious wish. Gather your group around with chopsticks at the ready and toss the ingredients as high as you can while repeating 'huat ah' which means 'to prosper' in hokkien. Remember, the saying goes, that the higher you toss, the greater your luck.