Post updated: 05/02/2019

Chinese New Year, celebrated on 5 February this year, is a widely acknowledged festival throughout the country and across the globe. 2019 is the Year of the Pig, believed to bring enthusiasm, optimism and hard work.

Each year millions travel back to their hometowns and ring in the celebrations with their loved ones, including family reunion dinners and fireworks.

Also known as the Lunar New Year, the celebrations differ from region to region, but here are some important ones to remember if you are looking to celebrate the Year of the Pig at home.

Family reunion dinner

Family sitting down to eat together as a New Year tradition

The reunion dinner is one of the most important meals of the year for locals, being a time when several generations of a family gather around the table to share food and spend time together. This meal is especially significant as the foods prepared each carry a lucky meaning; such as dumplings for longevity, spring rolls for wealth and fish for prosperity.

If you want to replicate this tradition in your own home for Chinese New Year, gather your family together for an evening of authentic Chinese recipes and good company.


Colourful fireworks shown over Chinese cityscape - popular sight seen during Chinese New Year

A long-standing tradition of Chinese New Year is setting off fireworks and firecrackers at midnight. Making the atmosphere come alive with joy, the fireworks stem from ancient times when the loud noises and bright lights were believed to scare away evil spirits who may bring bad luck.

We already follow this tradition during our own New Year celebrations, but why not specially select some bright red fireworks to commemorate the Chinese New Year colours and safely set them off at home. You could even find an organised display to ring in the Year of the Pig.

Decorations with red

Red lanterns - a popular sight seen decorating buildings throughout China during New Year

In China red is an auspicious colour, bringing good fortune to all those who use it in their decorating for Chinese New Year. Throughout the streets of China locals decorate their homes with red lanterns, red couplets and paper cut-outs, presenting images of prosperity.

As 2019 is the Year of the Pig, pig decorations can be purchased for locals to dress the streets and homes in commemoration. At home, why not hang paper lanterns outdoors or try your hand at paper cut-outs to hang throughout your home?

Throwing oranges into the river

Picturesque landscape of a river in Asia

On one of the last days of festivities (and considered to be the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day), traditions take a more romantic turn when single women search for love on the river banks of China.

Women write their contact information on oranges and toss them into the river, where men would then collect the fruit and contact the mystery woman depending on the sweetness or sourness of the orange. Add your own take on this and write personal messages on pieces of fruit to give as a gift or a small memento to those close to you.

Gift giving

Gift wrapped in red paper - said to be lucky to receive during Chinese New Year

Exchanging gifts is an important part of Chinese New Year, with the most common gift being a lucky red envelope. These are said to bring good luck due to their red and gold colouration and are often given to children and retirees with money inside.

Other gifts include alcohol, tea, fruit baskets or school supplies – each of which is dressed in red and gold wrapping to represent good luck and fortune for those who receive them. Present some small gifts over the New Year period or place a little money in a red envelope for the younger members of your family.

Celebrate Chinese New Year in 2019

The traditions and themes of Chinese New Year are simple to replicate at home; spending time with loved ones, dining on your favourite foods and watching fireworks flash across the sky.

If you want to enjoy these traditions first-hand, however, why not embark on an Asian river cruise exploring the inner bends and bows of the Yangtze river? Journey along the Yangtze and witness cities come alive with colourful lanterns, fireworks and decorations during this spectacular Festival.

For any questions, or if you would like to make a booking, call our Cruise Concierge on 0800 197 0854. Their expert advice and award-winning Cruise Concierge service will help with any questions you have on cruises to China.

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About Emma Smith

Emma has more than six years' experience as a writer and has been in the travel industry for over two years. She loves learning of new places and cruise ships coming to market, as well as discovering fun and exciting activities to do while you sail. She has cruised with Royal Caribbean and is looking to get something in diary for 2021! Her favourite things to see on a ship include excellent entertainment, a delicious cocktail menu and extraordinary dining venues.

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