Chinese New Year (CNY) aka lunar new year is one of the most celebrated festivals in Hong Kong. The first 3 days of first month in lunar calendar are public holidays. For the year 2014, it falls on 31 Jan 2014 on the regular calendar. In the Chinese zodiac cycle this will be the year of the Horse.
This is such a big festival that most shops and small restaurants will be closed on those 3 days and some up to 8 to 10 days. Big dim sum or seafood restaurants will stay open although 20% service charge may be charged instead of 10% (the normal rate). So, if you are in Hong Kong in those 3 days, you may want to visit a park or theme parks like Ocean Park or DisneyLand which will definitely be opened.
Many industries, particularly printing and construction, tend to close for even longer as many of the workers are from the Mainland of China and will take long trips back to their home towns during this time to visit family.
When it comes to eating out in Hong Kong during Chinese New year also watch out for the day or the weekend before Chinese New Year because families will have a get-together-dinner in Chinese restaurants. You either reserve a table or try a different cuisine.
Don’t miss out:
- Flower markets that set up one week before the Chinese new year. A big and organised one can be found in Victoria Park in Causeway Bay. Lots of new year decoration and plants and cut flowers for new year will be sold.
- The “International Chinese New Year Night Parade“, this is held on the day of the new year. There will be floats and bands and costumed dancers and stuff like that. You can watch from the roadside if you don’t mind getting there a few hours early, or you can buy a ticket for a seat in the spectator stands for the best view.
- On the second night of the Chinese New Year, there is a 20-minute fireworks above the Victoria Harbour. If your hotel room has a sea view, it’s best to watch it there if you want to avoid the crowd.
The story about Chinese New Year:
In the old days, there was a monster lived near a village. This monster was called ‘Year Monster’. It doesn’t like red and it doesn’t like noise. So villagers would stick red paper on their doors and red fire crackers were lit to make loud noises so as to scare the monster. When the villagers knew that the monster had gone, they would greet and bless each other. That’s why Chinese people lit fire crackers and stick red blessing note on our door.
In the first week and up to the first month, people visit their own families, relatives and friends to greet each other. Everybody dress up in new clothes. Edible things like biscuits, chocolate or fruits will be given to the host as presents and the host has to return a small red packet with money to return the luck. When people meet, they wish each other good luck and married couples have to give ‘lai see’ (red packet with money) to children and not married adults (not too old though, maybe under mid 20). ‘Lai see’ means luck so when one gives out ‘lai see’, that means he has plenty of luck to share with others. Therefore, when a couple sees a child, they have to give out 2 ‘lai see’. The ‘market price’ for ‘lai see’ is about $20 per packet for ordinary friend’s kids, more for closer friends, relatives and families. $10 for people who you don’t know, like, if you meet someone in your friends’ home. Unlucky words and curses are completely forbidden during Chinese New Year.
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A new tradition now is to send Chinese New Year greeting cards, in the past this was not done but now that families are so spread out around the world people send cards with the good wishes for the New Year. And now that we live in the internet world you can even send Chinese New Year Greeting Cards. Send one to a Chinese friend of yours!
Another site that is dedicated to Chinese New Year, and also has greeting cards, is www.101chinesenewyear.com; you’ll find Chinese New Year Ecards and Year of the Rooster cards.
Celebration of Chinese New Year nowadays is very different from the old days. Click here to see the differences.