Escaping the Average

Fun Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year

One of the most exciting parts about learning about other cultures is learning about their holidays and festivities. Holidays that are widely celebrated in America are not so widely celebrated in all areas of the earth. Likewise, huge celebrations in other countries may or may not be a huge deal in America. For instance, right now, China is in the middle of celebrating their biggest and most cherished holiday, Chinese New Year. Being honest, prior to dating a Chinese guy, I never heard of Chinese New Year. But after being with him for a short period of time I learned that this holiday was a pretty huge deal for billions of people. Whether you want to surprise some special Chinese people in your life, or you’re just looking for a reason to Celebrate, keep reading to find out all about Chinese New Year and how to celebrate it.

*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning if you buy something, I’ll receive some compensation at no extra cost to you*

All About Chinese New Year

When Is It?

This year it is 2/16/2018, which is Friday.

What Is It?

Chinese New Year is a popular holiday celebrated throughout various Asian countries. The holiday is also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year. I’m sure each country celebrates differently. However, I’m writing this with all of my information coming from Chinese, therefore, I’m going to continue referring to it as Chinese New Year. To continue, in China, there are two calendars. There is a modern calendar and a traditional calendar. The date of the celebration is based on the on the moon. The celebration occurs the day that the full moon occurs between January 21st and February 20th.

There is a 12-year cycle that goes along with the Chinese New Year. Each of the twelve years is represented by an animal zodiac. The time of your birth determines your animal zodiac. My zodiac is the Cow. There was a bit of a misunderstanding when my boyfriend called me his pretty cow. Anyway, the Chinese New Year is an extra special time when it occurs on your zodiac. You can check out your zodiac here to see if your zodiac represents this Chinese New Year. This year is the year of the Dog. I’m so loving this year because all of the Chinese New Year decorations have cute puppies all over them.

How it is Celebrated in China

One of the biggest aspects of Chinese New Year is spending time with the family. It literally sparks one of the biggest yearly migrations as millions of people travel around to their hometowns to see their families. Almost everyone gets at least a 7-day break from work. That time is spent braving the crowded Chinese highspeed trains and airports in order to visit as many relatives as possible. As you go to visit relatives you swap gifts like fruit, cigarettes, wine, tea, clothes, etc. Children are given red envelopes with money in them from their elders. My boyfriend told me that during the week of Chinese New Year his grandfather doesn’t even close his door because so many people are coming in and out of his house. Families often spend their time playing poker or the traditional Chinese game, Mahjong.

Chinese New Year is the time to indulge huge meals comprised of Chinese delicacies. In most families, Chinese dumplings are eaten. The dumplings are filled with pork, veggies, beef, chicken, and seafood. The dumplings are then dipped in vinegar and special Chinese sauces. (In America Chinese dumplings are often called pot stickers). Noodles, rice, and a variety of other things are served with the dumplings. Fish is also a really popular thing to eat during Chinese New Year because fish represents bringing in extra cash. It’s a very superstitious thing that has simply become a nice tradition.

There is a countdown until 12 just like normal New Year. It is televised and there are celebrities and concerts going on. When it does turn 12 fireworks erupt all over China, creating the prettiest firework display you’ll ever see. Of course, there is a lot of hugging and well wishes being wished.

How You Can Celebrate Chinese New Year

Now it’s your turn to take this opportunity to celebrate!  You can make Chinese New Year a fun and cultural education experience for your friends, family, and children.


Making Chinese dumplings is a very tricky process. You can always find recipes online, or you can buy frozen Chinese dumplings and make them that way. Either way, making steamed dumplings is a big part of celebrating Chinese New Year. Make sure you have little bowls of vinegar you can dip the dumplings into. Along with that make some fried rice, or even ramen noodles. You could also order carryout from a local Chinese Restaurant or Panda Express. Make sure you try eating your meal with chopsticks!

It’s really common to have wine and alcohol during Chinese New Years and to make toasts to your family and loved ones. If you’re not into alcohol, you can always use sparkling grape juice. If you have a local place that serves Boba Tea you could always order some of that and celebrate with a fun and traditional Asian beverage.

Things to Do

You can spend some time playing card games or learning to play Mahjong tiles. Mahjong is a pretty intricate Chinese game. It’s not for people who don’t like to think. But if you’re up for a challenge, or like games that require a lot of thinking mahjong might be a game you can find yourself getting into. Of course, you can play any other board game too. In my post talking about normal calendar New Year, I talked about some great party games. Anything to make the night a little bit more fun!

Also, one of the key parts of Chinese New Year is giving red envelopes. The giving of red envelopes is a very traditional thing that is done all throughout China. There are all kinds of red envelopes decorated with Chinese characters and this year, puppies. Put some cash in the red envelopes and hand them out to the people you are celebrating with. Typically red envelopes are given to those younger than you. But I gave my boyfriend a red envelope with a membership to the USTA as a Christmas gift. And I will give him another one with tournament information as a Valentine’s Day Gift. He was surprised, and he loved it. You can get the cutest red envelopes on Amazon for actually pretty cheap.

I hope you enjoyed this post about Chinese New Year. If you liked it, please check out my other posts about China.

Most Interesting Chinese Food

Most Delicious Chinese Food

10 Ways a Month in China will Change You

Let me know in the comments if you celebrate Chinese New Year, or if there is a unique holiday that you celebrate that isn’t too common in America.



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  • Reply
    February 14, 2018 at 5:17 pm

    Thank you for sharing! I have lots of Chinese friends but hadn’t heard of all of these. I’ll use these ideas to have a little celebration with my family!

    • Reply
      February 16, 2018 at 6:26 am

      Have fun celebrating! 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  • Reply
    Deborah Hunter Kells
    February 14, 2018 at 5:22 pm

    We have a celebration here in Australia – or at least it comes on our Televisions a lot as it comes closer. They do a dragon thing in the streets in some capital cities here too with men wondering around in it. I too have played Mahjong – where you had to play it fast too. I nearly played myself out! lol… Interesting about it being the Lunar new year. I wonder where it came from to start it just then. I’m now going to your link to see what animal I am … LOL … Thanks for the great post!

    • Reply
      February 16, 2018 at 6:33 am

      These festivals need to start happening in the USA too. I’m lowkey jealous of all of these countries celebrating right now as I’m doing homework, ha. The US needs to get with Mahjong too! Anyway, it’s super cool that you’re celebrating. I hope you have a great time! And, I’m not really sure about its origins, but that would be a cool thing to research!

  • Reply
    Erika Ravnsborg
    February 14, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    That looks like an awesome time. I love the Chinese New YEar. There is so much to do

  • Reply
    Rachel G
    February 14, 2018 at 11:19 pm

    We live in Malaysia, and where we are, Chinese New Year is quite the celebration! We expect to hear a LOT of fireworks tonight…and I’ve already prepared “hong bao” for all the kids that we’ll see in the next few days. Special dinners with friends are scheduled, and Sunday there will be a lion dance at our apartment complex! The whole city we live in pretty much shuts down to celebrate the holiday!

    • Reply
      February 16, 2018 at 6:31 am

      That’s so exciting!! I love hearing how different cultures celebrate! As I mentioned I only know how it is celebrated from mainland China, and even there it’s celebrated differently throughout the provinces. But thanks for sharing what it is like in Malaysia! Have a great Lunar New Year! 🙂

  • Reply
    February 15, 2018 at 4:02 am

    We love celebrating Chinese New Year! Yours looks so fun!

  • Reply
    February 15, 2018 at 4:20 am

    What a great creative way to celebrate. I’m always looking for ways to teach culture to my children.

  • Reply
    February 15, 2018 at 9:16 am

    Interesting to see how the Lunar New Year is celebrated in China! I live in Korea and we’re in the middle of preparing all the rice cake soup one could ever eat and huge family dinners are coming up. Red is a good luck color here, too! Happy new year to you!

    • Reply
      February 16, 2018 at 6:28 am

      Wow, that’s super cool! I bet the celebration in Korea is super exciting! I’ve just discovered Korean food within the last two years, and I’m pretty sure it’s turning into an addiction. Have fun celebrating! 🙂

  • Reply
    Mary Leigh
    February 15, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    This seems really fun! I’ve never known much aout Chinese New Year but I bet it is a lot of fun to celebrate!

  • Reply
    zesty olive
    February 15, 2018 at 4:40 pm

    These are great ideas! And thank you so much for reminding me about Mahjong! I used to love to play it and had forgotten all about it! 😉

    • Reply
      February 16, 2018 at 6:25 am

      Yes!! Mahjong is pretty cool. It takes a little bit to get how it all works down, but it’s super fun.

  • Reply
    Jenni LeBaron
    February 15, 2018 at 4:50 pm

    I love that you’ve included all the ways that you can celebrate. The food looks tasty!

  • Reply
    Courtney Buechle
    February 15, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    These are such fun ideas, I have always wanted to know more about the traditions and meanings. I will have to check out more posts! I hope you have a happy New Year!

    • Reply
      February 16, 2018 at 6:24 am

      Thank you so much! I’m really glad you liked the post! Happy CNY to you too 🙂

  • Reply
    Brittany Cook
    February 15, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    I live in New Zealand and we have a festival in my home tome. It is the best, exciting and most detailed festival ever, and with the best food.

    • Reply
      February 16, 2018 at 6:24 am

      That would be so cool to see how it is celebrated in New Zealand!!! Unfortunately, it’s not even celebrated here at all except within the international student communities.

  • Reply
    Sara |
    February 16, 2018 at 1:28 am

    I love that this holiday centres around spending time with your family and enjoying wonderful meals together. I can definitely get into that! Thank you so much for sharing ♡

    • Reply
      February 16, 2018 at 6:29 am

      Same!! Getting a week off of work, spending time with the fam, and eating lots of good food. Definitely into that!

  • Reply
    Dr. Nadia
    February 16, 2018 at 2:03 am

    Very informative! Beautiful pics. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Elise Ho
    February 16, 2018 at 4:47 am

    I am looking forward to CNY. We have so much fun with it each year. Kung Hei Fat Choy.

  • Reply
    Shani | Sunshine & Munchkins
    February 16, 2018 at 5:41 am

    I’ve never celebrated Chinese New Year but I’ve heard about it many times. I love Chinese food though, especially pot stickers!

  • Reply
    February 16, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    seems so fun! I’ve never celebrated it but I like the traditions 🙂

  • Reply
    Marjie Mare
    February 16, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    Thanks for sharing, love to learn about other culture.

  • Reply
    February 16, 2018 at 10:40 pm

    It is so interesting to her about different celebrations that are unknown to us, but so special to someone else. I like best finding the parallels that all people celebrating like to do!

  • Reply
    Cori - Sweet Coralice
    February 16, 2018 at 10:59 pm

    I don’t celebrate many holidays but I think it’s very important to familiarize ourselves with other cultures to be able to understand them better. I love this post and now, I’m wanting a plate full of dumplings to munch on while I play Mahjong on my phone while my hubby watches Netflix shows, lol.

  • Reply
    Ashley Newell
    February 17, 2018 at 7:12 am

    How fun! I need to get some mac-jong tiles!

  • Reply
    February 23, 2018 at 7:22 pm

    This is amazing! I would love to experience this, though I have been to China before!

  • Reply
    February 23, 2018 at 10:29 pm

    Great article on Chinese New Year. We don’t celebrate but do love watching other people celebrate like the Chinese Dragon Dance. Loved your first picture of the red lanterns in your blog too! Love the Chinese Red.

  • Reply
    March 2, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    Love this!

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