China travel

Published on January 25th, 2012 | by Paz


Happy Chinese New Year; Xin Nian Kuai Le Part 2

As we continued in the celebrations. Check out Part 1. We decided to take a walk around town. It is said that if the day before Spring Festival is warm then Spring Festival will be cold. Oh boy were they right. The couple days before Chinese New Year began it was almost 70 and we had our windows open. So now during Chinese New Year it is raining and might it a high of 45 which is very cold for a city where 98% of the homes don’t have any kind of central heat. 

We bundled up and headed out!

Even in the daytime you can see all of the lights lit up and the red lanterns everywhere!

You have to pose under the tree! As Zeek is taking this picture so are about 10 other Chinese people. I guess we are pretty cute, or at lest Lupita is!

So what are some Chinese traditions?

Gettin all done up! People get their hair done, and new clothes are bought and saved for New Years Day. Homes are made to look their best; new pictures hung on the wall, decorations bought, and incense is burning. All homes must be thoroughly cleaned to make sure there is no ill fortune and to make room for all of the “good” that is to come in the new year. Homes are decorated with red and gold paper cut outs with Chinese characters that mean happiness, wealth and luck.


There are many meals that will grace people’s tables but in the Northern China they will eat jiaozi, a steamed dumpling, while in Southern China nian gao, a sweet rice pudding is more popular. I am not a fan of the rice pudding and would much rather go for the dumpling. Yum! In larger cities like Guangzhou restaurants are actually open and many families go out to eat to celebrate. In smaller towns you won’t find restaurants open.

During the day it is very similar to a western holiday. People celebrate with their family members by playing board games, cards, watching T.V. and visiting relatives.

At night you celebrate with some fireworks. We saw a display of over 300,000 fireworks. It is suppose to drive out evil spirits.

So true that Guangzhou is the flower city.


Gifts are most always given in the form of food (cookies, almonds, and chocolates) or hóngbāo  or red money envelopes. They come in all styles, hello kitty, Dora, or your more traditional red envelopes that wish luck, prosperity, health, ect.  Now here in Southern China you are only suppose to give hóngbāo   to people who are not married, and you especially give hóngbāo to young children. While we were waiting for the fireworks to begin a nice family gave Lupita and Abe hóngbāo red envelopes. They each had 10 RMB in them. A very nice jester considering we didn’t even know them. I felt awful as I had no pretty red envelopes with money to give them.  For a married couple food is more appropriate.

Employers also give red envelope money. Depending on how generous your employer is it can be up to 1 month of your salary. So they get their red envelope money and paid time off. I think that is reason for anyone to celebrate.

Lupita next to a tangerine tree in front of the temple.

Tangerine trees go on sale about 15 days before Chinese New Year and they are in every home, store, restaurant, and hotel. We had to talk to the kids about not picking the tangerines…they do look yummy!

They come in all sizes, some are 10 inches high and some are 8 feet high.

Tangerines in Chinese sounds similar to the word “luck” and orange sounds like the Chinese word for “wealth”. So they believe that the trees will bring both wealth and luck. I will take some wealth and luck for 2012, please.

Everyone paying their respects.

With all sort of offerings.

A tree inside the temple decorated with lanterns.

Due to the freezing weather some tarts were in order! They have the traditional Portuguese Egg tarts, cheese, durian, coffee, and tuna. We discovered a new treat which was a sweat potato pie! They were warm and yummy!

As you can see we all needed a little warmth. Hopefully it warms up soon.

Happy New Year!


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About the Author

Paz is an avid adventurer in life and food. Traveling across the globe with her family they enjoy cultural immersion and checking out the local eateries.

7 Responses to Happy Chinese New Year; Xin Nian Kuai Le Part 2

  1. Pingback: Happy Chinese New Year: Xin Nian Kuai Le Part 1 – International Cravings

  2. Wow what a fantastic time of year to be in China, even if it is freezing!! At least warm clothes are nice and cheap! At least that’s what I’ve heard- we are headed off on our Southeast Asian adventure soon, and hope to venture into China afterwards, though we haven’t bought alot of cold weather gear. Happy New Year!

    • Paz says:

      Yes, cheap…I have to admit, sometimes I get annoyed buying warm clothes, because I have really nice ones in a box in Wisconsin…didn’t think I needed them. But it does make for some interesting fashion that we have picked up. 🙂 And…interesting pictures!

  3. Angela White says:

    Is Lupita cute or what! When you get back you’ll have to explain the whole Hello Kitty thing for me… I never understood why Chinese are obsessed with it. All the decorations are beautiful! Maybe this holiday celebration can make up for the lack of Christmas cheer you missed this year? 🙂
    Sending Love.

    • Paz says:

      We still don’t understand Hello Kitty…but she is hot here! Anyone under 80 loves her! Seriously….women of all ages and especially the 20’s & 30’s crowd are obsessed. I must be missing something. 🙂 Miss ya!

  4. Joanne Fruit says:

    It’s a special treat to sit down and catch up with your family! (Looking so healthy and happy, I might add) Beautiful pix of the Chinese New Year – Penny soooo needs a couple of those great red lanterns for her great new deck.:}

    • Paz says:

      So good to hear from you! Your comments on my first posts is what kept me writing! We are much healthier…I will have to look into sending her some of those red lanterns! We are going to be releasing a Chinese Diet plan soon…if you are interested. Thanks for posting. 🙂

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