Chinese New Year Traditions: Preparation Time!

How to say Happy Chinese Lunar New Year in Chinese?

The most common Chinese ways of saying Happy Lunar New Year are Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin) and Gong Hey Fat Choy (Cantonese). Even though the pronunciations are a little different, both are written the same way.
Gong Xi (恭禧) is congratulations or respectfully wishing one joy.
Fa Cai (發財) is to become rich or to make money.

 Thus, Gong Xi Fa Cai means wishing you to be prosperous in the coming year.

A fun way to respond to someone who greets you with Gong Xi Fa Cai (Mandarin) or Gong Hey Fat Choy (Cantonese) is Hong Bao Na Lai, “Red envelope please!”

Hong Bao (紅包) is a red envelope. Red is the luckiest color in China. During Chinese New Year, Chinese parents give cash gifts in red envelopes to their children. So hong bao is cash gift or lucky money. In a different context, it can also be used to mean bribe money.

Preparations for the New Year begin a couple of weeks before the big day. This is a fun time full of anticipation and joy as we get ready for the thrill and excitement of the celebrations.

  • A clean house to welcome the New Year

Before the New Year comes, it is one of the Chinese New Year customs to clean the house from top to bottom to get rid off all the bad luck gathered in the previous year. And after the New Year comes, you cannot sweep during the first days otherwise all the new luck will sweep away!

Cleaning house also means settling all your unfinished business to start fresh for the new year: Pay off all your debts, resolve all quarrels with friends, catch up with homework!!!

  • Make some Banners with New Year's Greetings
Red and gold banners with New Year messages of good luck decorate the entrances of houses as well as business establishments. And accordingly, you could decorate the entrance to your room, or put them up in the living room or near your main door.

Red and Gold are lucky colors for the Chinese, red symbolizes vitality of life and happiness, gold represents wealth and prosperity.

You can make your own Chinese New Year signs with bright red paper and markers or a brush if you prefer.

  • Preparing Food and Putting Away the Knives

On New Year's Day, the families come together to celebrate and everything must be ready for this important fest. Food must be prepared ahead of time, as one of the popular Chinese New Year superstitions dictates that all knives must be put away.

Using a knife during the first days of the New Year "cuts off" all the good luck for the coming year.

The New Year's feast takes many days to prepare and in addition, food for the next couple of weeks has to be plentiful as there will be hoards of visiting relatives and friends. Remember that food is very important to Chinese, but even more so, this is a time of abundance, lots of food signify prosperity for the coming year!

  • The Chinese New Year Flower Markets
The regular flower markets which on a normal day are buzzing with activity, really come to life a couple of weeks prior to Chinese New Year as everyone prepares for the big day. Everybody flocks to the markets to prepare gifts and decorate the house with the traditional "lucky plants", these are some of the most popular:

  1. orange trees
  2. mandarin or kumquat trees
  3. lucky bamboos
  4. branches of cherry blossoms
  5. stalks of pussy willows

Now the markets offer all sorts of merchandise well beyond plants and flowers for the house and people come out for the shopping as well as to enjoy the spirit of the holiday.

  • Paying respects to the Ancestors

The New Year Celebrations can only begin after paying respect to the ancestors.
On New Year's Eve, people will go to the temples and pray for good fortune for the new year.

They bring offerings of food and incense to please the spirits of the deceased so that they might bring good luck. They come to ask for a special favor perhaps, or just to appease the spirits if luck hasn't been that great lately.



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