Chinese New Year preparation starts weeks in advance to ensure that the most good luck and prosperity will be received in the upcoming year. Whether or not traveling to an official celebration is an option this year, you can still celebrate one of the world's most widely observed holidays no matter where you are.
First, read about Chinese New year celebrations, then learn how to prepare for and enjoy an excellent Chinese New Year for luck and prosperity in the upcoming year!
- Find out when Chinese New Year is this year.
Chinese New Year Preparation
Unlike our Western New Year's Eve celebration, the Chinese New Year festival is considered to be the most important 15 days of the year. The holiday sets the pace for the upcoming year's prosperity and fortune.
All possible measures are taken to increase the odds that as much good fortune as possible will be received during the celebration. Even windows are opened to allow good luck to come inside!
- Read about Chinese New Year traditions.
Preparing the House for Chinese New Year
With so much to be done, Chinese New Year preparations typically begin weeks in advance. Traditionally, the house is swept, cleaned, and decorated for optimal Chinese New Year feng shui. The spring cleaning done prior to Chinese New Year is usually the most thorough of the entire year; it's the time to clean out all those drawers! Broken items, dead plants, and all clutter should be thrown out to make room for better things.
Finish all of your cleaning before the holiday arrives. Sweeping the house during Chinese New Year is considered unlucky, as you actually sweep the new, incoming good luck away!
Red banners adorned with Chinese calligraphy -- known as chunlian -- are hung around the house to usher in prosperity in the new year.
Clean Yourself up for Chinese New Year
Any cutting done during Chinese New Year is also considered unlucky, so hair and fingernails should be trimmed in advance. Most families want to look their best, so new clothes -- preferably red -- are purchased.
If red just isn't your color, many Chinese traditionally wear red underwear during Chinese New Year! Even a red bracelet or other piece of jewelry will do.
Shopping for Chinese New Year
With most businesses closed at the start of the holiday, and traffic a jammed-up mess, shopping should be done as early as possible. Many stores hold special sales to commemorate the new year.
Here are a few items to remember:
- Food: Groceries for the festival dinners and regular meals need to be purchased in anticipation of the holiday. Store shelves are often ransacked the week prior to Chinese New Year. Read more about symbolic Chinese New Year food.
- Clothing: Chinese New Year is a time to look your best; new wardrobes are purchased for family gatherings, temple visits, and public celebrations. Red is the color of choice, as it was once considered to scare away evil spirits and to bring luck. White and black clothing should be avoided during Chinese New Year. Don't forget to purchase red underwear or a red bracelet for the days that you cannot wear another red outfit!
- Gifts: Small gifts and tokens of love are exchanged during Chinese New Year, so purchase candies, small cakes, trinkets, and candles. Children typically receive money or sweets placed inside of red envelopes. Alcohol, tea, fruit, flowers, and sweets make great Chinese New Year gifts for party hosts -- don't show up empty handed! If you choose to give fruit, give oranges and make sure that baskets do not include pears. Read about gift giving etiquette in Asia.
- Lanterns and Candles: Paper lanterns and tea-light candles will be needed for the Lantern Festival on the 15th -- and final -- day of Chinese New Year.
Go to the Flower Market
Special flower markets can be found during Chinese New Year that sell both flowers and small gifts. Flowers are used to freshen up homes, as gifts for hosts, and to help singles find partners.
Don't just blindly purchase flowers; all colors and species have symbolic meanings! Avoid white flowers -- they are used for funerals, particularly chrysanthemums.
Settle Old Debts
If at all possible, old debts to friends and family are repaid prior to Chinese New Year. This is the time to return borrowed items and tools, repair damaged friendships, and start fresh.
Consider extending the proverbial olive branch to people with whom you've had disagreements. Try to close up grievances so that none of that negative energy carries over into the upcoming year.
Prepare for Good Luck
The whole point of Chinese New Year preparation goes beyond fireworks, lion dances, drinking sessions, overeating -- although plenty of that is done! -- and even family reunions. The 15-day period sets the tone for the upcoming year, so every aspect of daily life, down to the most minute detail, during the Chinese New Year celebration should be focused on attracting luck and good fortune for the rest of the year.