Student Blogs/Jessica in China

Happy Chinese New Year from Hong Kong! 恭喜发财

(Gong Het Fat Choy – Cantonese, Gong Xi Fai Cai – Mandarin)

Here’s to 2015, the year of the Ram!

This was my first time celebrating Chinese New Year in Hong Kong, and it was an amazing experience. Although there are celebrations in Toronto and Ottawa because of the large Asian community, this was truly a once in a life time experience.

As a kid, I would love saying; Gung Hei Fat Choy, Lai Si Tau Loi! – Happy Chinese New Year, Give Me Your Red Envelopes! Chinese New Year is always marked with a large family gathering, lots of delicious food, and red envelopes  and this year was no different! (Red envelopes are often filled with money. By handing out these red envelopes, it is believed to ward off evil spirits and to protect the individual from sickness and death.)

a close up of a red envelope with gold markings

A red envelope!

This year, the Lunar New Year/Chinese New Year, is also known as the Spring Festival which fell on February 19.

Chinese New Year (CNY) is regarded as the most important festival in the Chinese culture as it provides the same significance of Christmas in the Western cultures. Celebrations begin on Chinese New Year’s Eve and runs until the 15th day of the first month. It is a time of rest, family gatherings, good food, and celebrations to mark the new year.

Various traditions and celebrations mark the new year. On the new year’s eve, families reunite for a family dinner ”年夜饭“.

In Hong Kong, many individuals head out to Causeway Bay’s Victoria Park to count the new year together. Although I did not go, it is usually packed with people! It seems like all of Hong Kong’s population of 7 million are in the park! New Year is celebrated with firecrackers as it is believed they ward off evil spirits that come during the New Year.

On the first day of the new year, many families go visit their elders’ and families’ to 拜年. This often includes a meal together and family members who are married would give a red pocket (Lei See – Cantonese/ Hong Bao – Mandarin) to those who are single. Upon receiving the red pockets, it is customary to say a few words wishing good luck. Afterwards, many would go see the lion dances which can be found at large shopping malls. This is all done while wearing red, symbolising good luck the new year.

Lion heads from the chinese new year dances

One of my personal favourite traditions – Lion Dances!

Here are some traditional Cantonese sayings for the New Year:

Characters Cantonese Pingyum English Translation
心想事成 Sam seung sih sihng Accomplish that in your heart
大吉大利 daai gat daai lei Much luck and much prosperity
出入平安 chut yap ping on leave and enter in peace and safety
年年有餘 nin nin yau yue every year have bounty in excess
快高長大 faai gou jeung dai quickly grow taller and become bigger (for children only)
龍馬精神 lung ma jing sung Spirit of dragon and horse
萬事如意 maahn sih yuh yi meaning 10,000 things according to your will


I hope that your new year’s was filled with good food, family gatherings, and red envelopes! Here’s to the year of the Ram – 恭喜发财, 心想事成, 出入平安, 年年有餘!

Thursday, February 26, 2015 in , ,
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