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Chinese New Year Traditions and Activities in Hong Kong 2020

ART & CULTURE

Chinese New Year is the brightest, biggest and most important cultural celebration in the Chinese calendar, celebrated by an astonishing one in five people on the planet.

 

There is nowhere better to experience it in all its majesty than in Hong Kong, with 2020 marking the year of the Rat. The holiday, also called the Lunar New Year, begins on 25 January, lasts 15 days and is seen as the beginning of spring. In the same way as the western tradition, the new year is welcomed on New Year’s Eve – this year on 24 January.

 

For Chinese New Year, Hong Kong is one of the best places to spend the holiday. There are many fun Chinese New Year traditions, Chinese New Year food to try,  and Chinese New Year activities. 

 

Lucky Chinese New Year Food Not To Be Missed

 

1. Nian Gao

 

A homonym for “higher year”, it is believed that consuming the sticky rice cake will lead to a higher position and improvement in each coming year. The sweet snack is a popular Chinese New Year food that is gifted to friends and family as good wishes. It can be shaped into different designs such as a pair of carps to symbolize surplus or the God of Wealth. The most common ways of consuming are serving it cold or pan-frying slices coated with egg.

 

2. Tang Yuan

 

These glutinous rice dumplings are so simple to make, mixing glutinous rice flour and water, the process of making them is one the most-anticipated Chinese New Year activities in many households. With the word, “tang yuan” sounds a lot like the word for “reunion”, what better ways to bring the family together (perhaps over a little competition) and assert the Chinese New Year traditions for togetherness.

 

Tang Yuan is usually served in hot sweet soup on the Lantern Festival, which falls on the fifteenth day of the Chinese New Year. Often the rice balls are filled with sweetened black sesame paste, red bean paste or grounded peanuts.

 

 

3. Traditional Chinese Candy Box

 

Found in almost every household as a Chinese New Year tradition, these beautifully decorated boxes are filled with candies and snacks during Chinese New Year. Hosts offer their guests bites that represent good fortune and prosperity. Nowadays, you can find almost anything from gourmet chocolate, wrapped candies, to slices of cakes in the candy box. Yet, traditional dried candies and roasted seeds still hold their places in the hearts of the people, as they do in the center of the candy boxes.

 

Sweet snacks are associated with celebrations and happiness. Dried candied lotus seeds, lotus roots, carrot slices, ginger slices, coconut strips, water chestnuts and winter melons, have been creating memories for those with a sweet tooth for generations. As a pastime during reunion gatherings, and a symbol of accumulation of fortune and wealth, consuming baked seeds is among one of the favorite Chinese New Year activities for families.

 

 

 

 

 

4. Yau Gok

 

Yau gok, or more commonly known as gok zai in Hong Kong, are traditional deep-fried dumplings originating from the Guangdong Province in China and remains a popular Chinese New Year food in the Cantonese-speaking communities.

                        

Each dumpling is shaped to resemble ancient Chinese currency, sycee or yuanbao, signifying wealth and money. Wrapped in glutinous rice dough and then deep-fried until golden and crispy, these crunchy puffs come in both savory and sweet variations.

 

Fillings vary according to different regional recipes. Chinese sausages, Chinese mushrooms, and ground pork are common savory ingredients. The sweet versions are often made of coconut or peanuts crumbs mixed with sugar and sesame.                                                                           

 

5. Steamed Fish

 

A popular Chinese New Year greeting is wishing each other to have more than sufficient in the coming year and will not lack anything. The phrase “年年有餘” (Nian Nian You Yu) means to have a surplus every year. In Chinese, the word for surplus is pronounced similarly to fish; therefore, as a sign of prosperity, steamed fish is often served at dinner.

 

The fish must have both a head and a tail, to signify another Chinese phrase “有頭有尾” (You Tou Yau Wei), meaning to finish what you have started to achieve positive results.

 

 

Chinese New Year Activities in Hong Kong

 

Every Chinese New Year, Hong Kong puts on spectacular shows and offers traditional activities to its visitors from around the world.

 

 

Night Parade

 

Celebrate the first day of Chinese New Year with a night parade that takes place throughout Tsim Sha Tsui, where Hotel ICON is situated. The parade features floats that represent various parts and industries in Hong Kong and spectacular performances by local and international talents.

Firework Display

 

The next night from Hotel ICON you will see the fireworks on Victoria Harbour. With a vantage point on the harbourfront, you can enjoy the amazing colors that light up the sky hassle-free and away from the crowd at Hotel ICON.                                                                                                            

Chinese New Year Race Day

 

Head over to Sha Tin with the locals for horse racing on the third day of the Lunar calendar, which is another popular festivity during the Chinese New Year in Hong Kong.

 

Chinese New Year Traditions


One vital aspect of Lunar New Year is a number of traditions that are adhered to.

 

Clothing – with all family members needing to dress appropriately, all of which must be brand new. A great reason to go shopping! It’s also common to wear lucky red underwear under your outfit, be it a traditional Chinese cheongsam or qipao, or indeed more Western-style clothing.

 

Distributing red envelopes – known as lai see, to family, friends, co-workers, and people you come across in daily life. Married couples give red packets to unmarried adults and children as a blessing. The red-color envelope represents good luck and is used as a symbol to ward off evil spirits. Make sure the amount you give ends in an even digit, following Chinese beliefs where everything good comes in pairs. You should also avoid the number four as it sounds like the Chinese word for ‘death.’

 

Visits to temples – to worship your ancestors and gods and welcome the New Year. To do so involves offerings, usually of food including oranges and dates, while incense and stacks of joss paper – known as “ghost money” – are burnt. Worshipers turn windmills in temples clockwise for better luck and smooth sailing in the coming year.

 

 

Hotel ICON looks forward to welcoming guests during the Chinese New Year! Ask us about special events happening at the hotel and in the city.

 

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