4 Things You Might Not know About Chinese New Year

Published on 12 February 2018

Full of colour, food and fun, there is plenty to love about Chinese New Year. The upcoming Year of The Dog will kick off two weeks of street festivals, dragon dancing and serious feasting, plus a nice cash boost for those in line to receive red pockets of “lucky money”.

You’ll find a huge spread of things to eat, see and do in Canberra in the coming week, so before you head out, brush up your cultural knowledge with these fun facts about this vibrant annual celebration.

Chinese New Year isn’t just for Chinese people.

Chinese New Year, also called Lunar New Year, is celebrated by nationalities that follow the lunisolar calendar. This includes Vietnamese (who refer to it as Tet) and Koreans (Seollal), along with ethnic Chinese populations across Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines. In total, one-sixth of the world’s population celebrates Lunar New Year.

Superstitions kick in to overdrive.

Unless you’re blessed with a superstitious Asian elder in the family, chances are you may not be familiar with the many ways you can inadvertently accrue bad luck at this time of year. Haircuts on the first day of the new year are a big no-no. “You’re cutting off your prosperity!” Likewise, moving house – just stay put. Sweeping floors on the first three days of the new year undoes any good luck you’ve recently gained and if you break a bowl, plate, glass or mirror, your bank balance could suffer in the coming year.

Food Brings Luck

Forget superfoods, at Lunar New Year it’s all about the lucky food. Foods served now are filled with symbolism – eat right and you can look forward to abundance all year. Increase your chances for luck by slurping down Chinese “longevity” noodles for long life, snack on addictive Malaysian and Singaporean pineapple tarts for good luck, or try Vietnamese Xôi Gấc, an orange-red sticky rice that symbolises luck and achievement.

It’s time to shop up a storm

A great Chinese New Year tradition is to start the new year wearing smart new clothes, something that is said to set the tone for a positive year. Bright colours, particularly red, are considered lucky, with some donning red from top to toe (including underwear) for maximum fortune attraction. Filipinos often wear polka dots at this time as round shapes are associated with prosperity. For everyone, giving gifts to family, friends, neighbours, even colleagues, is an important tradition that shows appreciation and love.

Stuck for gift ideas? Check out these Chinese New Year offers from Canberra Centre retailers here.