Chinese New Year 101
The 16 days of the Chinese New Year begin on February 12th in 2021, which gives you time to begin to prepare for the festivities all the way up until the Lantern Festival on the 26th. If you’re interested in welcoming the Year of the Ox with Chinese friends and family but aren’t sure what to do, here’s our guide to celebrating the Chinese New Year in style.
How to Celebrate Chinese New Year with Chinese Friends
First and foremost, it’s a good idea to learn how to say “Happy New Year” in Chinese. While there are other greetings, the easiest to learn is probably a simple “Happy New Year,” which is 新年快乐 (written in the Latin alphabet as xīn nián kuài lè). If you’re feeling fancy, impress your Mandarin-speaking friends by saying “Happy Spring Festival,” which is 春节快乐 (chūn jiē kuài lè).
Aside from greetings, it helps to dress properly! Seeing as the Spring Festival is a time in which you’re ushering out the old and bringing in the new, it’s a time for new clothes (yay!). If you’re attending a traditional festival, opt for a Tang suit or a colorful qipao. Be sure to purchase your shoes beforehand as it’s seen as bad luck to purchase them during the Chinese New Year!
And, don’t forget about everything red! It’s a lucky color in Chinese culture, especially around the New Year. If you have children, you’ll need to ensure that you’re gifting red envelopes/red pockets (红包) to both your kids and your parents, but if you’re younger, hand them out to your friends just to be polite!
Worried about cleaning up after the festivities? Don’t! It’s actually taboo. Spring cleaning occurs before the Spring Festival to get rid of bad spirits. After the Spring Festival occurs, however, it’s thought to be bad luck to clean as you might be clearing away all of the new, positive energy! Wait until at least five days after the festival to clean (which means you can relax).
Traditional Chinese New Year Foods
You didn’t think we’d talk about the Chinese New Year without diving into the delicious dishes served during the celebration, did you? Absolutely not. Depending on which part of China your friends and family (or even you) are from, you might find that everybody follows slightly different traditions in terms of New Year dishes, but you can count on a few staples, such as…
Dumplings! If you love dumplings then you’re in for a real treat. They’re especially prominent during the Chinese New Year as they signify the transition from the old to the new. Load them up with cabbage, green onion, and savory pork and you’ve got yourself a fine midnight snack.
Other traditional Chinese New Year dishes include steamed fish as it signifies an abundance of wealth. Eating fish during the Chinese New Year is thought to bring about a surplus of wealth for the year to follow, and we all know that we could use a bit more of that in 2021.
Nian Gao is a traditional rice cake that you might see served year-round, but it becomes more popular and prominent during the Chinese New Year. The origins of these tasty cakes date all the way back to the Wei and Jin dynasties in the 220s (yes, you read that right; it’s the 220s), making it a delightfully rich cultural dish that’s worth a try whether you’re Chinese or not. You’ll find that Nian Gao is sweet in the north of China and savory in the south.
Feeling a bit lazy this Chinese New Year? Serve hot pots, which are literally hot, boiling pots full of meats, vegetables, and whatever else you feel like throwing in there. Choose a broth that tantalizes your tastebuds, be sure to set aside a special sauce, and some noodles and you’re good to go. It’s a great dish for picky eaters who want to customize their New Year’s dinner.
Where to Purchase Goodies for the Chinese New Year
If you’re keen on celebrating the Chinese New Year with your Chinese friends, it’s best to visit local Asian markets where you’ll be able to find authentic ingredients.
Did you know that Cheese offers exclusive cashback deals for brands that sell Asian groceries and snacks? That means you can order everything you need for the Chinese New Year from the comfort of your home.
While you’re here, why not click around and browse through the app to see which stores sell the Asian fruits and foods that you’re interested in.
Here’s a list of the cashback deals we offer at online and local markets:
- Weee! = 3%
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And, for those interested in Asian food delivery, try:
- Chowbus = 2%
- Fatuan = 2%
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In the mood for other foods? Visit our offers section to see which other hot cashback deals you can access by paying with your Cheese Debit Card.