我們最喜歡的農曆新年習俗 – our favorite lunar new year traditions!

I’m so excited for this week – we’re not only flying to see snow festival in Sapporo, Japan (you can’t imagine how long ago I touched snow), but we’re also visiting Hong Kong for Lunar New Year.

It’s actually my first time in Hong Kong during this celebration so it’s going to be special.
Especially with all the trust I put into year of dog! But I won’t tell you the details yet!

This is why I couldn’t resist to post our favorite Lunar New Year traditions! Our household is basically Polish-HongKong-Shanghainese marriage so most of the traditions have their own unique touch.

And no, I won’t mention the red pockets because let’s face it – no one in history of red pockets got to keep the money. It’s like Polish kids and the money they receive for their First Holy Communion. I guess that’s what brought me and Sing together.

Also, in case you want to watch some of our preparations with Momzilla – click below!

Sing haven’t celebrated LNY properly in years. As he lived abroad, away from his family he would usually just eat at friend’s house and call his parents.
Since we started dating, then got married and lived together I tried to give him a real celebration. I wasn’t really successful, but the most important thing is trying!

It resulted in the list below:

  • Firecrackers and fireworks – it is believed that the loud noise of the firecrackers serves to scare away evil spirits, but we do not like to live dangerously so we switched to sparklers. And let’s face it – Momzilla’s example proves it does not prevent evil spirits to show up on your doorstep.
  • Decorating the home – on a budget, of course. With twelve zodiac signs buying 2-3 decorations for each of the zodiac sign would make us go bankrupt. We try to pick the decorations that can be reused the next year. Or if they have a money cat on it. Money. Cat. We like both! My current favorite decoration is plush lucky Rilakkuma and Korilakkuma in a mandarin hat. Cute and universal.
  • Reunion dinner – since we still live away from both of the families, at the same time working at the same place, reunion dinner doesn’t really sound like a thing. However, I will always try to cook one or two dishes at home and buy the remainder from a restaurant. If Momzilla is with us, I will occasionally help – just to be sure she’s not poisoning my soup rice balls. But that’s my favorite traditions – resembles Christmas dinner that I’m always looking forward to, that warmth a family has.
    It even has a fish. Stinky fish I’m forced to eat. And can never run away from it!
  • Wearing new clothes – you don’t need to ask me twice to do that. As Sing is a cheapskate, I have to ensure I get him something nice and new to wear that day.  There were times when we were on a really tight budget so I kept a shirt he got from my parents on Christmas all the way until the LNY so I wouldn’t need to buy a new thing. Good, old times in Bay Area.
  • Lion/Dragon dance – it will sound like a pet abuse, but trust me – it’s not! There’s no real new year festival in Ireland, I know there’s some Chinese fair in late February, but it’s nowhere near the real deal. We don’t have any lion or dragon dances so Sing found a substitute. He puts the parade from Hong Kong on YouTube and then tries to hug Biscuit the cat… she will then run around the house in the rhythm like a little lion.
    Who else wonders why Biscuit may not like him? 
  • The annual bragging festival – I don’t understand much as the call moves from Cantonese to Shanghainese depending whose on the line, but I have a great laugh once Sing is off the call. Aside of the usual ‘When are you having a baby’ and ‘Your sister is not married yet, find her someone or she will be a leftover’ family calls last much longer and are changed to bragging festival. But not the obvious bragging-bragging, more like ‘fake humble brag’. Let me give you an example “I got promoted, but that was just good timing. I bet big cousin works even harder, I’m sure he’s getting a promotion soon. No auntie, just a small increase just barely enough for the mortgage of the flat we got. Yes, auntie – the second one but that was just luck, right before the increase!’. You see now?
    It goes both way. And you cannot brag too much so you don’t sound cocky, but you also need to make sure all the aunties and grandparents will be proud or/and jealous. You cannot bring shame to your family so you need to brag about something.

I cannot wait when we move back to Hong Kong where we can finally celebrate it properly. I like the deviation from the traditions that we managed to change to our own, home-y traditions, but I really like the whole ‘huge family dinner accompanied with the sound of fireworks’ thing.
Unfortunately, Ireland doesn’t offer any alternatives so the best we can do is get some decorations and hope a local takeaway is open.

Have you experienced LNY? What are your favorite traditions or memories? Sing’s favorite memory is throwing a fire cracker into his cousin’s ear… Who on Earth did I marry?!
Let us know in the comment section! 


16 thoughts on “我們最喜歡的農曆新年習俗 – our favorite lunar new year traditions!

  1. OMG, that bragging festival bit…I’ve never heard it described and I’ve got to say you’re bang on! When I think back, I’ve witnessed a lot of this false modesty / praise deflection.
    Very observant, Lina!


  2. Oh, the humble-brag — hilarious. We never really go out because it’s so crowded. I really should do more decorating, too, only Andy is not a fan of any decorating or any holidays. Maybe the animals can have red bows or something.


  3. We have Zero Lunar New Year traditions, heck in some years we actually kind of missed it by a day or two due to work…
    Wish we could experience it in China some day as we were each time in boring Europe. In Helsinki they did have festivities which we attended twice but nothing besides that. Oh yeah we try to watch every year the New Year Gala but that is another thing we is only “try” as the last two years we missed that as well and were too lazy for the reruns and recordings ;D


  4. In China, young people don’t like the Lunar New Year celebrations anymore. There’s really nothing to do apart from eating, eating and eating some more, and spending time watching tv or playing cards with relatives you might not even like and who will nag you about many topics (marriage, babies, work, apartments, cars…). Everything is closed, no lion/dragon dances, fireworks and firecrackers are banned in major cities… In C.’s family, the “celebration” was a dinner in a restaurant. That was it. This year I asked MIL and she said we will celebrate at home, maybe we will make dumplings together, at least that’s something. And I bought a red dog to paste on the door.

    When I’ve been to HK for the new year I’ve seen the fireworks in Victoria Harbour and the lantern exhibitions. Have fun!


      1. Hi, Lina. I think your photos are fine, and I’m confident you’ll capture what it’s like to be in Hong Kong for the Lunar New Year. Gotta love the 1 to 2 weeks off for LNY! 😊


  5. That’s a great list, Lina. I’ve never lived in China, so we’ve never celebrated the Lunar New Year in a serious way. I always send cards and red envelopes to my grandchildren, and that’s about it. I hope you will have a wonderful LNY next year in Hong Kong.


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