The Chinese New Year is an exciting time for people the world over. It carries the promise of peace, prosperity, health and happiness. But you can’t leave attracting good fortune to chance! To maximise your blessings, take a cue from Hongkongers and follow these fortuitous customs and traditions. From special foodie dishes to decor rituals, clothing and more, here’s how six locals are staying lucky over the Chinese New Year.
Virginia Chan, founder of Humid with a Chance of Fishballs Tours
Growing up, the number one custom that we followed every year was to have a special dinner with the whole family. A tradition we had whilst growing up was that my mom would always include shrimp into this dinner – it wasn’t until I moved to Hong Kong that I learned that the reason that people ate shrimp for the Chinese New Year dinner was because shrimp (“ha”) sounded like laughter, so it is a good omen for happiness.
One thing I started doing since coming to Hong Kong is to buy a new top and underwear for the first day of the Chinese New Year, both preferably in red. Finally, if I’m out with my grandma or aunties and they see a big plum blossom tree in full bloom, they’ll make me run around it three times clockwise in order to activate my romance luck for the year!
Estella Huang Lung, CEO of Children’s Medical Foundation
Every year, we will visit the Mong Kok Flower Market to get bamboo stalks and water fairy flowers, as they all signify health, wealth and family unity. It is also traditional to decorate the home with red lanterns in order to attract ‘lucky’ energy!
Raised in a family where Chinese fortune-telling was very much part of our tradition, I always keep an eye out for what the Chinese Zodiac says is likely to come our way in the year ahead.
Claire Yates, founder of The Lion Rock Press
Chinese New Year is one of our favourite times of the year and we observe it in many ways. We do lots of things that my grandmother used to do, like not sweeping away any fallen blossom from the tree. I always go overboard with decorations because they are just so beautiful. My favourite is a huge vase of silky pussy willow and golden yellow forsythia which we hang our decorations on – it always looks glorious. We also have a lovely orange tree we have on our doorstep – orange and kumquat trees are said to bring wealth and prosperity. I love peeling and drying the skins afterwards! All of these traditions are very reassuring and grounding, offering a sense of continuity in a time of so much change.
Chef Wong Wing-keung, executive Chinese chef at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong’s Man Wah
Before Chinese New Year I clean every corner of the house as well as all the kitchenware. It’s important to welcome the new year looking clean and fresh. I have also always avoided having a haircut or buying shoes during the holidays as they’re said to bring bad luck for the year.
Food-wise, a classic ‘lucky’ Chinese New Year recipe that I ask my team to prepare on the first day of the holidays is Egg Noodles with Crabmeat and Crab Roes – this dish is known for symbolising auspiciousness. Another favourite festive dish of mine is Braised Vegetables with Red Fermented Bean Curd – this stems from a Buddhist tradition which believes that vegetables purify and cleanse the body and soul.
Conny Wong, founder of Pepper & Mint & author-publisher of Mini Love Tales
Chinese New Year is one of my favourite holidays as it is an opportunity to really reflect and appreciate how lucky we are to be in the company of our loved ones. Before the holiday, we usually go to the bank to get crisp new bills to be put into red packets (Lai See). Lai See is typically given out to family, friends, children and employees over the holidays, and is a nice way of bestowing luck, happiness and fortune on those who are younger or more junior to you.
Then on the first day of Chinese New Year, we typically dress in various shades of the lucky colour red. It is believed that red can scare away spirits of bad fortune. I love Hong Kong around Chinese New Year as the city really comes alive – you can feel it in your bones! Besides the beautiful decorations, vibrant lion dances and the lovely flower markets, with everyone wishing each other well, you can feel the happiness and positivity around!
Every year just before the Chinese New Year, we do a deep cleanse of the house, purging our home of items that we no longer use or need and donating them to a charity. We deep clean the house physically and energetically to transmute any old energies from the previous year. Just make sure to get it all done before the first day of the holidays, as cleaning during the actual new year is said to bring bad luck! This sets the stage for us to welcome in any new year energies with abundance and clarity.
How do you plan to stay lucky this year?
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