Chinese New Year traditions from Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong

Written by: 
Helam Lau

Every February, the Chinese New Year is celebrated from Feb. 16 to 19 in Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong as a day to worship deceased families and ancestors.

Yan Yun Xu, a freshman from China majoring in marketing, said, “The Chinese worship deceased families and ancestors on the first day and fifteenth day of the New Year. My family are non-members. I think it doesn’t go against my religion. It is just a ritual that Chinese people have been doing like every culture has.”

Yan described how locals celebrate the New Year in China. “We go to the Chinese temple to pray and burn incense sticks. The Chinese believe it is a tradition to propitiate the gods in hopes of bringing luck, wealth, and health to the household. Some would try to be the first one who gives the first incense sticks to God, getting the biggest luck.”

The people also clean on the second to last day before the New Year because it “symbolized getting rid of the old past and being ready for the new life,” she added.

Natives prepare different meals depending on which part of China they live in, Yan explained. “Northern Chinese cook dumplings, steamed or fried. Southern Chinese cook rice balls, salty or sweet. My mom would cook rice balls with seafood that have a salty flavor, like prawn or scallop.”

Melody Ho, a senior from Hong Kong majoring in TESOL, explained a tradition her family has where they collect money from red envelopes that are given by family or friends. “We collect all the red pockets we got and group them into different shapes and take a picture with it.

“When we were young, my siblings and I gathered all the red pockets. When my mom signaled, we competed by throwing the red pockets up to see whose pockets were the most scattered on the floor. It doesn’t have any meaning behind it but was just how our family used to have fun.

“Afterwards, we unwrapped the red pockets and counted how much we had in total. We deducted the amount that our parents gave out. Then we took a video telling how much we got for that Chinese New Year. When I was young, I thought every family did that. Until I grew up, I realized it is just our home tradition, and that makes it special. When I asked my family how they came up with this, they said they had no idea, but just wanted to have something fun to do.

Angela Chi Chen, a junior from Taiwan majoring in accounting, explained her family’s tradition in trying to get lucky each year. “We will have a reunion in my grandpa’s home. We will have a fish dish usually as we think it represents wealth. We think it will help us to make more money for the coming year. We will also go to buy a lottery ticket and play ‘Mahjong’ as a family.”

Date Published: 
Friday, February 16, 2018
Last Edited: 
Friday, February 16, 2018