What Goes On During CNY?

Hellooo, there!  Happy Chinese New year to all those who celebrate! It was a little hard planning a post this year around the holiday given everything that’s happening in world news. There’s just so much to be said about this year’s changes in 28 days, but what we need is some positivity and a great hope for our future.  My one advice is that now more than ever, stay updated and stick with one another.

In the meantime, so many people have been asking me about the customs, traditions, and events that revolve around this huge holiday celebrated by so many. Last year, Chinese New Year was officially dubbed a holiday in NYC so public schools had the day off!  I am far from being an expert and I am still learning every year, but based on the people around me and the traditions that I see, I made a very simple checklist of what people do to get ready for the new year and what they do or can’t do during the first 15 days. I did a FAQ on it last year, but comparing that to this year’s, either I’ve forgotten some or I’ve learned a couple more things, haha!  (Related article: 10 Things to do during Lunar New year) . Hope this helps!

Getting Ready for CNY 

Clean your home!  Vacuum, sweep, mop, throw out old things you don’t want. “Sweep out the old and welcome in the new!”

– Buy things to decorate your home.  Here are the meanings behind everything you might want to buy:
Flowers = rebirth and new growth
Oranges = gold – brings in luck and wealth
Sponge cake (”Year cake”) = yearly improvement
Sesame balls = fortune expands similarly to how this ball of dough expands when fried

– If you’re married, buy red envelopes and get new “crispy” money from the bank. Wrapping money in red envelopes is expected to bestow more happiness and blessings on the receivers. The cool thing to know is that it isn’t about the money – it’s the significance of the red envelope itself.  What an honor to do!

Chinese New Year Day and after

I was about to make a list until I found this chart from China Highlights.  It seems a little strange (and many more than I could imagine) but basically, I’d say the most common ones nowadays are to not wash your hair for one day, don’t use bad words, and don’t clean or throw out garbage because you’re “throwing the luck away.”

From this day until the 15th day is where you visit your relatives’ homes and bring them gifts – oranges, chocolates, pistachios (”happiness”), food, and red envelopes for the young ones. You also have a family dinner to open up the year –  here were some highlight dishes from my family dinners a few years ago –  CNY Food.  You can also catch a lot of festivities that happen in your area. (New Yorkers – this guide from TimeOut is for you!)    Most commonly you will see lion dancers visiting stores that want to be blessed for the year and to “scare away any evil spirits.”  Give the lion a red envelope with money and touch the lion head for extra luck!  Snap a photo while you’re at it 🙂

I hope all this answers your questions!  As always, thanks for reading! xoxo

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