How do Chinese People Celebrate CNY Back Home?

By Lars James Hamer, February 8, 2024

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Giant fires, singing, sacrifices and – of course – lots of food, Chinese New Year has many different forms of celebration.

To learn more about the unique ways the Lunar Festival is celebrated throughout the country, That’s reached out to a number friends to share their stories, customs and traditions.

Read on for inspiration as to how you can ring in the New Year like a true local. 

202201/waerdfcv.jpgImage via Cheng-Tsui

Liao Yulin of Guizhou

Liao Yulin is from Congjiang, a small county nestled in the mountains of Guizhou Province. She is of the Dong minority, who follow customs dating back thousands of years. 

How do the Dong people celebrate the Lunar Festival in Congjiang?
The Chinese New Year for minorities in small towns and villages is very different to those in big cities. During the Spring Festival, all the people in every family will wear traditional Dong clothing.

Young boys and girls will go to the Drum Tower to sing love songs; if a girl likes a song a boy sings, they will meet each other's families and get married. 

What about food?
There are many other customs. Most houses will sacrifice a pig and then eat it.

Friends and family will go to each other’s houses to eat, drink and sing Dong songs.

If you come to my house on the first day, then it is expected that we go to your house on the second day. 

Ethic_Dong_Liping_Guizhou_China.jpegImage via Wikimedia

Yan Ting of Shanxi

Yan Ting is from Pubei City in north China’s Shanxi Province.

What famous traditions are there in Shanxi?
In Shanxi, one of the most famous traditions is to go to the city of Datong and watch the Prosperous Fire. We have also have ice sculptures!

What is the Prosperous Fire?
Families will use large pieces of coal at the base of a tower to make a big fire. Everyone stays up until midnight and then we will light some firecrackers.

The Prosperous Fire is something lots of families and places do, but the one in Datong is the biggest and grandest. 

dsf.jpgImage via Tung-Lau良笙 on Weibo

He Chun Rao of Hainan

He Chun Rao was born in Guangzhou, but her mother is from Hainan Province and her father is from Sichuan Province. Sometimes, she will go back to Wenchang on the island of Hainan to celebrate the New Year.

When you’re in Wenchang for the New Year, what do you do?
We eat poached chicken on New Year's Eve, it’s a Wenchang delicacy.

We also eat red rice cakes and on New Year’s Day, and eat eggs where the shell has been dyed red.

My family and I stay up until midnight and watch the fireworks.

On the morning of the first day of the New Year, we worship our ancestors; we fill small bowls with food and drinks and burn fake money for them, so they can use them in the afterlife. 

Why red eggs?
They say eating red eggs brings prosperity and good fortune.

Also, on New Year’s Eve we leave all the lights on in the house to ensure the coming year will be a smooth one.

6881803383_b2bcfbfef2_c.jpgImage via Ray Yu on Flickr

Peng Hongyu of Sichuan

Peng Hongyu is from Chengdu, Sichuan Province.

What is something special about the Spring Festival in Sichuan?
The autumn bacon is pretty unique. Every year we will take a lump of pork, put it in a jar and let it pickle for a few days. After we take it out, it will be smoked and then hung outside to dry for a couple of days.

Any other food traditions?
One of the most important things to do is to sacrifice a chicken and then eat it. The Chinese word for chicken shares a phonetic sound with words that mean luck and success.

We also have lots of markets where we buy all kinds of different goods, from toys to flowers.

dsefv.jpgImage via 万州吧 on Weibo

Zheng Ruilin of Guangdong

Zheng Ruilin lives in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province. He explains some of the different things Cantonese people do during the holiday.

How do you prepare for Chinese New Year?
Before the Chinese New Year, we like to buy some snacks and cakes.

In Guangdong, people like to buy jian dui (sesame seed balls), you jiao (a type of fried dumpling) and nian gao (rice cakes).

These snacks and cakes have connotations with wealth and good luck.

What do you do during Chinese New Year?
Guangdong people say, "If you haven't been to a flower market, then you haven't celebrated the Chinese New Year."

We buy all kinds of flowers and decorations, and people believe that they will have good luck after they visit the flower market.

24240758244_36d30cfc99_w.jpgImage via Saskia Bosch van Rosenthal on Flickr

What’s your Spring Festival family meal?
In Guangdong, poon choi is an indispensable dish for reunion dinners.

Chicken is also a common part of our New Year dinner, Cantonese people say, "No chicken, no feast."

006aUdvbgy1gyq1ex6aakj32x22d31kx.jpegImage via 三亚理文索菲特度假酒店 on Weibo

This is just a number of the special ways CNY is celebrated across the country. If you know of any other ways that we didn’t cover, post them in the comments below!

The quotes in these interviews were edited for accuracy and brevity. 

[Cover image via 500px]

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