Visit a Chinese temple
Chinese temples are busy places around the New Year period, as families pay respect to deities, light incense and pray for blessings, and there’s usually a wonderful atmosphere. The most famous temples are of course in China, such as the Temple of Heaven in Beijing and Nanshan Temple in Sanya, but cities including LA, London and Bangkok have beautiful temple buildings, too.
It’s all about Chinese food
Food is at the top of the list of most good celebrations, and Chinese New Year is no exception, as families sit down to a large dinner on the evening before the new year begins. Popular dishes include a whole steamed fish, which represents prosperity, as well as Chinese dumplings, . In Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, don’t miss the traditional tossing of the yusheng – a dish of raw fish with shredded vegetables that’s served on a large platter so everyone at the table can mix the ingredients together using chopsticks, while saying good-luck phrases, before tucking in.
In London, head to upmarket Chinese restaurant Mei Ume at Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square, where guests write wishes on a wishing tree in the restaurant before sitting down to a banquet of rainbow-coloured dim sum, which symbolise wealth, or decadent abalone in oyster sauce . Cocktails are infused with traditional Chinese flavours such as mandarin syrup and tea-infused spirits.
Share red envelopes
A tradition that’s unique to the Chinese New Year period is the sharing of red envelopes containing money. The gift-giving is mainly from parents and grandparents to children in the family, but sometimes envelopes are also given to employees within a company. The colour red is said to symbolise good fortune and happiness. It’s very impolite to open an envelope in front of the person who gave it to you however, so if you’re lucky enough to receive one, keep it under wraps until later.
Watch fantastic fireworks
It’s widely believed that the Chinese invented fireworks in the 7th century during the Tang dynasty, so it’s no wonder that there are spectacular firework displays in China to mark the celebration of a new year. Most international cities with a large Chinese population – such as London and Bangkok – have a large display, too.
Spend time with family
During the fortnight-long celebrations, families make plans to visit relatives and friends at home for a reunion meal, the most important of which takes place on New Year’s Eve. Travel-wise it’s the busiest time of the year in China, with people sometimes journeying thousands of miles to be with extended family and close friends.
Catch a dragon parade
Dragon dances are a common feature of Chinese New Year and can be seen in celebrations all over the world, although the most dazzling and embellished dragon figures appear at the bigger celebrations in places like Beijing and Shanghai. The dragon is a prominent symbol in Chinese culture, said to ward off evil spirits – the longer the snaking dragon, the more luck it is believed to bring.