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Chinese New Year: the low-down on HK’s biggest festival

date 20 Jan 2017

Christmas and New Year’s may have passed, but the Winter festivities continue into this month with Chinese New Year – just more than a week away! If it’s your first time celebrating Hong Kong’s most celebrated holiday and are unsure of what to expect, fret not – we’ve put together a quick guide on some of the customs and traditions observed, and how to mark the occasion in your own home. Read below to find out more!

Prepping your home for the New Year

Right before the Lunar New Year, it’s traditional to thoroughly clean your home and eliminate the clutter, which symbolises getting rid of any accumulated bad luck and welcoming the New Year with a clean slate.

Once your home is prepped and in tip-top shape, it’s time to decorate! Add some auspicious red and gold to your home by hanging red trimmings on doorways and windows, as well as lanterns throughout the home to fend off bad luck. These decorations can also feature couplets that wish good luck, longevity, happiness and prosperity. You’ll also find many families will grace the entrance of their home with a pair with kumquat trees, which symbolise wealth and good fortune.

Get the look: Recycled tin roosters | Paper lanterns (in-stores only)

To add a bit of fun and character to your home, add decorations of the celebrated zodiac animal – this year’s rooster is a chirpy addition that brightens up any room, and can stay even after the holidays!

Get the look: Recycled tin roosters (in-stores only)

Family gatherings

Family is an important cultural theme during this holiday; on the eve of Chinese New Year, gather with your loved ones over a delectable feast. Dishes typically served during this reunion dinner are selected to represent New Year phrases and wishes. This includes fish for surplus or abundance, as well as chicken for prosperity and togetherness. Chinese New Year cake (or Niangao) is also passed around, and symbolises prosperity year after year.

The first day is dedicated to paying visits to relatives and friends (elder and close relatives often coming first) and wishing them a Happy New Year. During these visits, it is customary to welcome guests with sweet treats, which are served in a round container to represent “togetherness”.

Get the look: Terracotta Container | Paper Lanterns (in-stores only)

Red packets

During Chinese New Year, it is customary to give red packets to wish friends and family good luck and prosperity. As a general rule of thumb, these are typically handed out by married couples or from seniors to juniors (such as bosses to employees or parents to children).

When preparing red packets, ensure each envelope contains a single note, and never any coins. Be sure to also pick up crisp new notes from the bank ahead of time. It’s a polite gesture and will show your recipients you had thought these gifts through!

So, how much do you put in red packets? There’s no steadfast rule for this, but typically, envelopes with a lower monetary value ($20) are given to people you don’t know very well, whereas those with a higher value ($50 or $100) are handed out to people you are familiar with and interact with regularly. Red packets with $500 are also often handed out to close friends, colleagues and relatives, but of course, this is entirely up to your discretion.

Get the look: Recycled tin roosters (in-stores only)

You’re sure to see dancers in vibrant lion costumes maneuvering their way through the streets and shopping malls of Hong Kong over the Chinese New Year period. Traditional lion dances are believed to bring good luck and frighten away evil spirits, and are a fun and festive way to gather with loved ones and ring in the New Year. We will be welcoming a Lion Dance at our HomeSquare Sha Tin store on 8 February 2017 at 11am, so if you’re in the area, please pop by and enjoy this spectacular performance with us!

Last but certainly not least, don’t forget to wish everyone “kung hey fat choy” (or “xin nian kuai le” in Mandarin)!

From the heart, kung hey fat choy from all of us at TREE.

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