Dos and Donts: 2024 Chinese New Year Traditions

By: Rose Mary Madrigal
chinese new year traditions

While looking at a condo for sale this Lunar New Year, celebrating Chinese new year traditions are associated with certain beliefs on what to do on Chinese New Year. These traditions will often cause misfortune or be a luck for those who follow accordingly. Find out more about these Chinese New Year beliefs to know what to do during the first few days of Chinese new year and usher through the year of the dragon.

Meaning behind Chinese new year

Chinese New Year is also known as Lunar New Year and it’s the most celebrated Chinese holiday among countries. In China, it’s also called Spring Festival. This year, the new year falls on February 10, 2024 and will begin the Year of the Dragon which is the year before the Rabbit.

It’s known that celebrating Lunar New Year in China is for good blessings on farming hence, why ancestors worshipped very critically.

Since it’s a holiday that dates back centuries, varieties of Chinese New Year traditions and celebrations have already been passed down. Some of these myths are based on symbolism, superstitions, and on wordplay. Regional cultures celebrate differently through distinct activities and food. For instance, people in Northern China eat dumplings for the Chinese New Year’s Eve, whereas those in Southern China prepare rice cakes which means “climbing higher in the New Year.”

Whether in China or elsewhere, these are the most common Chinese New Year traditions and what they mean, and for each Chinese zodiac sign to appreciate.

Facts about Chinese new year

Chinese new year falls on a different day each year

Chinese New Year doesn’t fall on the same day every year, it usually falls on late January or February. The dates is usually placed by finding out the “New Moon”. This is when the New Lunar cycle happens and is the first phase of the moon when it’s crescent moon look like a Lunar eclipse.

Each year is linked with a different animal

The Chinese calendar has a cycle of 12 years, in each year, it is symbolized by a different animal. 2024 is currently the year of the dragon. It is believed that those born in this particular zodiac year will home the characteristic of their animal.

Year of the Dragon

This 2024, the zodiac sign is the dragon. People born in these years (2036, 2024, 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, 1952..) have usual traits of courage, tenacity, and intelligence, and often display enthusiasm and confidence.

Chinese New Year is celebrated for 15 days

The Chinese New Year isn’t only celebrated for a day but is celebrated for 15 days. Traditionally, it ends when the full moon happens and ends with the Lantern Festival. The first three days of Chinese New Year are the main celebration for Chinese New Year and is also a public holiday.

Guo Nian Hao means Chinese new year

There are plenty of greetings to use for Chinese new year, but the best one to say is ‘Guo Nian Hao’ which means, Happy New Year!

Red envelopes are given with money inside

Kids during Chinese New Year receive red envelopes which have money inside of them. They can spend it on anything that they like, however, must not include the number 4. It also should not be able to be divided by 4 because the number 4 in Chinese sounds like death.

Chinese new year ends with “Lantern Festival”

Chinese New Year always ends with the Chinese Lunar New Year, and during the Lantern festival, people release flying lanterns into the sky. They also celebrate this moment with their families. The Lantern festival means reconciliation, peace, and forgiveness.

Lion and dragon dances are quite popular in China during the Chinese New year. It is believed that these dances bring good fortune to the local area.

During the Lion and dragon dances, loud drums are used. It is believed that loud noises drive bad luck and spirits away.

Fireworks are lit at midnight

Just like most of people celebrating traditional new years, those celebrating Chinese New Year usually stay up until midnight. Once midnight strikes, fireworks are lit up.

There is also a myth that a beast called Nian does not like these loud noises or fire. Which is why these fireworks take place to scare off the beast.

Do’s and Don’ts for Chinese new year

Do wear red for the new year

When celebrating Chinese New Year, it is common to see those who celebrate it wear the color red. From vibrant clothing, scarlet packets, and the crimson lanterns or banners with the god touches, the color red is without a doubt, the color of the season. Red is believed to bring good luck and fortune to all.

Up until today, these traditional beliefs can still be seen among modern styles with distinctive Chinese motifs like qipaos and cheongsams, to their decorations like ang baos.

Do “Bai Nian”

The first thing one should do during Chinese New Year is to ‘bai nian’ which is to greet and wish each other luck. A traditional gift for exchanging is a pair of mandarin oranges and giving of red packets or the ‘Angpao’ which is a red envelope with money inside.

Unmarried adults and children can receive these red envelopes from married family members or friends in exchange of them wishing good health and fortune.

Do decorate for good fortune

Chinese new year is not complete without decorations, in terms of decor, “everything must be red because fire signs symbolize new life and prosperity”. The origin of red’s luck statement stems from a legend of Nian. The best that appeared on New Year to wreak havoc. People figured out that the beast is afraid of the color red. So until this very day, people hand red lanterns, and flowers and kumquat fruit trees are also symbolic of prosperity, so after cleaning, that can bring some blossoms into your house for extra good luck.

Do visit family and friends

Another tradition for families and friends are gathering or reuniting during dinners. These are typically held during the eve of New year. Steamboat dishes are the heart of the meal, aside from oranges and pineapple tarts, bak kwa, love letters and more. Tossing Yushen or ‘Lo Hei’ – a type of fish salad – while exclaiming prosperous wishes, it is believed that the higher the toss, the more abundance is brough to one’s life and those around them.

Do prepare delicious food

One popular Chinese new year tradition is the food. And festive meals are a great reason for going all out when celebrating. These dishes also have special meanings attached to them. Long noodles are mostly common, they are not to be broken during cooking or when eating them because the length of the noodles symbolize longevity.

In addition to this, spring rolls and dumplings are eaten for prosperity and the number of other foods are eaten because of they sound. For instance, ‘yu’ in mandarin is for “fish”, sound like “surplus”. Fish is a traditional Chinese food for New year and is prepared steamed and whole.

Do hand out red envelopes

Among other Chinese New Year traditions, this is a favorite among the youth. Every new year, little red envelopes are given to loved ones, called hong bao in Mandaring or lai see in Cantonese to single people, children, and unmarried couples by the elderly or those that are married.

Do make noise on Chinese new year

Going back to the legend of the beast, Nian, making noises are encouraged to scare away this evil spirit, Little red firecrackers are quite popular, on the other hand, walking on the streets of chinatown will likely smell like gunpowder. People use these fireworks to create a festive ambience and for good luck in the new year. Historians believe fireworks were invented in ancient China and displays of these are nothing in spectacular.

Don’t wear black and white

Black and white fits are definitely chic, but Chinese new year is all about the bright colors, specifically red. Wearing black and white is traditionally associated with mourning so it’s best to avoid wearing them especially on the first day of Lunar Year. Incorporate some color to clothing pieces and accessories to welcome the new year with a auspicious start.

Don’t sweep the floor on Chinese new year

Cleaning up before the start of Chinese new year is important and must not be on the day itself because sweeping, taking out trash is symbolized as sweeping away wealth and fortunes, or dumping of good luck from the house.

Don’t wash or get a hair cut

Hair must not be washed on Chinese New Year’s day since it is washing one’s fortune away. In Mandarin, hair (发, fa) has the same pronunciation (and indeed is the same character) as fa in facai (发财), which means ‘to become wealthy’. While cutting hair is believed to bring misfortune to uncles.

Don’t say unlucky words

No one wants to hear any negative words or meanings during Lunar new year which is why they avoid words of death, sickness, poverty, ghosts, or anything else. They are replaced with euphemisms if they need to talk about topics about someone being gone or someone dying.

Don’t wash clothes on Chinese new year

People do not wash clothes on the first and second day of Chinese new year because these two days are the birthday of the water God. Washing clothes is regarded as disrespect to the God of water. Ancient traditions believe that water symbolizes wealth, so pouring water away is like pouring wealth away.

Don’t use sharp items

Blades of scissors or anything sharp are often associated with sharp lips that tend for people to quarrel. Using scissors on the first day of Lunar new year are considered a invocation for quarrels with others. The use of knives are to be avoided for any accident whether harming a person, or using it as a tool, it is thought to lead a inauspicious happenings and depletion of wealth.

Don’t hand out “odd number” amount of money

Avoid giving out odd amount of money when handing out red envelopes since even numbers are considered a good thing in traditional belief, good things always come in doubles. But avoid the number 4 and 40, as 4 sounds like the Chinese word for death.

Don’t break anything on Chinese New Year as it symbolizes misfortune

Breaking anything like bowls, plates, glass, vases, or mirrors during the Lunar Year is considered a bad fortune, monetary loss, and a family breakup. In case of breaking anything, people usually use red paper and wrap the fragments then say, “Sui sui ping’an”, which means ‘all year round safe and sound’.


Celebrating Chinese New Year is more than just the appreciation of the culture, but the meaning behind it deep-rooted traditions. Whether Chinese or not, these can be celebrated and practiced to enhance the Lunar New Year for a fruitful year ahead!

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