Highchair Travelers: Chinese New Year

Wu Fu Lin Men!

Five Happinesses Bestowed on Your Household.


January 31st, 2014 [edit–Feb 8, 2016] marks the first day of the Chinese New Year. As you might guess, Chinese New Year is a pretty big deal around our house. To celebrate, 80 Diapers will be featuring several Highchair Travelers posts this week centered around the holiday. Today we will be giving you an outline of how you would celebrate if you were living in China. Later this month we will share ideas for celebrating wherever you live.

The Chinese traditionally followed a lunar calendar, meaning that the new year will not be consistently the same on a western calendar. In 2014 the year begins on Friday the 31st, which means the biggest celebrations will be on the evening of Thursday the 30th. But preparations begin weeks beforehand. Here’s a schedule for you!

 January 24th: Clean your whole house, top to bottom. (Scrub every inch of every surface! Any leftover dirt will bring bad luck into the new year!) Hang red lanterns and red paper cuts everywhere, especially in windows.

Chinese_New_Year's_poetryCompose poems to hang around your doorways, buy new clothes for everyone (red, of course) and don’t forget the “fish luck” signs! Make sure they’re hung upside down—you don’t want the good luck “falling out” of the bottom of the character. Start doing fireworks every night.

Wearing her new year finery.

January 29th: Give Hong Bao (red envelopes with money in them) to your Ayi (nanny/maid), her child, your driver, teacher, gardener, your nieces, nephews, children, neighbor children, etc. Every Hong Bao you give to an unmarried person brings you good luck!

Take your children to your husband’s mom’s house where you will all stay for three days and three nights! Good luck with the Mother in Law.

Oh, and under no circumstances should you get a haircut this week. If you do, your life may be cut short as well.

Jiaozi posterJanuary 30: Make jiaozi (dumplings) with your extended family. These should be eaten at 11 o’clock tonight. They will give you energy so you and your children can stay up all night. You have to, to keep the kids safe from the river monster that will come and eat them if it finds them asleep. Light fireworks, eat food, and be as noisy as you can until sunrise. Then the kids are safe for another year.

The River Monster arrives on the night before CNY. Keep him away with loud noises (like fireworks!)

The River Monster arrives on the night before CNY.
Keep him away with loud noises (like fireworks!)

January 31: Happy Year of the Horse! Any babies born in the year of the horse (that’s me!) will be quick witted, outgoing and prone to travel. If your Chinese zodiac sign is the horse, this will be a particularly lucky year for you.

You’ll need to make more jiaozi for breakfast to make this year satisfying and safe.

Go to a Temple Fair! Though in America CNY usually means parades through Chinatown, in China everyone heads to a temple fair to be part of the excitement.

lion dancers--square

Lion Dancers perform at the International School of Beijing, 2010

Watch performances by lion dancers, face changers, drummers, musicians and acrobats, see a puppet show in a traveling theatre box, eat some Chinese pancakes, some ‘1000 year old eggs’ and, my personal favorites, some candied haw fruits.

An old-fashioned traveling puppet show!

An old-fashioned traveling puppet show!

February 2: Pack up the kids again and head over to your mom’s house now—bring hubby along. You’ll all need to spend three more days and nights here before you can go home. And remember to visit all your aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents on the way home. Don’t forget the hongbao!

Gong He Xin Xi! Happy New Year!


Planning a CNY party? Look at the great ideas on our Highchair Travelers Pinterest Page.


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