Chinese New Year begins on Friday 16th February and last for two weeks. Chinese New Year takes place on a different date each year, because it is based on the lunar calendar.
New Year’s Day normally falls between January 21 and February 20.
The global celebrations are an explosion of light and sound, involving bell ringing, lighting firecrackers and watching traditional lion dances.
Chinese families gather together for a reunion dinner on New Year’s Eve, and clean their houses to sweep away bad fortune on New Year’s Day.
Traditionally, children would be given red envelopes stuffed with ‘lucky money’ and positive wishes on New Year’s Day.
Some teens now have red envelope apps, so their relatives can transfer cash digitally.
Thanks to the variety of Chinese restaurants, everyone can get involved in following the Chinese New Year tradition of eating food with symbolic significance. Restaurants each serving a traditional dish said to bring daji dali, good luck and great prosperity, to diners looking for a positive start to the Chinese New Year.
All of the dishes below are available throughout the Chinese New Year period that runs from February 16th until March 2nd.
Food: Tang Yuan (rice balls)
Symbolism: Family togetherness.
Lucky Sayings for Eating Tangyuan:
团团圆圆 (Tuántuán yuányuán /twann-twann ywen-ywen/ ‘group-group round-round’): Happy (family) reunion!
Location: Shikumen, London.
Food: Nian Gao (glutinous rice cake)
Symbolism: Higher status.
Lucky Saying for Eating Niangao:
年年高 (niánnián gāo /nyen-nyen gaoww/): ‘Getting higher year-after-year by year’, can imply children’s height, rise in business success, better grades in study, promotions at work, etc.
Location: Mrs Le’s Grill in London or Peking Dynasty in Newbury
More details: Represents the significance of a King’s son who valued the toil of his people.
Food: Dumplings and Spring Rolls
Dumplings should be arranged in lines instead of circles, because circles of dumplings are supposed to mean one’s life will go round in circles, never going anywhere.
Lucky Saying for Eating Spring Rolls:
黄金万两 (hwung-jin wan-lyang/): ‘A ton of gold’ (because fried spring rolls look like gold bars) — a wish for prosperity.
Locations: China Red in Edinburgh, Bar & Wok in Cheltenham or Zheng Oxford
Symbolism: Increase in prosperity.
- The head should be placed toward distinguished guests or elders, representing respect.
- Diners can enjoy the fish only after the one who faces the fish head eats first.
- The fish shouldn’t be moved. The two people who face the head and tail of fish should drink together, as this is considered to have a lucky meaning.