Do away with the old and wear new clothes for Chinese New Year as it symbolises a fresh beginning to the year. And since the colour red represents luck and positivity, many choose to wear red clothes, and sometimes even underwear, to help usher in an auspicious year.
Having a chuen hap, a Chinese New Year snack box, at home is a must for entertaining guests during Chinese New Year. Symbolising ‘togetherness’ and ‘perfection’, a chuen hap typically has an odd number of compartments filled with treats that have auspicious meanings. There are eight types of traditional sweets you will often find in a chuen hap, such as candied lotus seed, which symbolises the bearing of children; winter melon candy, which represents having a good year from start to finish; as well as savoury and fried snacks like melon seeds, deep-fried sesame balls, and yau gok (deep-fried dumplings) that are all associated with prosperity.
Traditionally, families gather on the eve of Chinese New Year for a sumptuous meal and enjoy festive dishes such as poon choi, a traditional Cantonese casserole filled with layers of ingredients that symbolise luck and fortune, as well as foods associated with wealth such as fat choy (black moss) and dried oysters.
It is customary for elders, bosses, and those who are married to give out lai see, aka red packets, during Chinese New Year, so be sure to brush up on your Chinese New Year greetings and wish them a prosperous year to come. Red packets filled with lucky money would also be given to children to place under their pillows in order to ward off evil spirits and wish for a healthy new year.
Take part in one of the city’s biggest Chinese New Year traditions at Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple. It is believed that those who enter the temple first and make an offering to the gods by burning the inaugural incense sticks will receive the biggest of blessings. Thus, crowds of worshippers gather at the temple in the early morning of Chinese New Year’s Day to pray for a new fortuitous year.
Apart from Wong Tai Sin temple, many Hong Kong locals also visit Che Kung Temple in Sha Tin on the second and third day of Chinese New Year to worship, burn incense, draw fortune sticks, and turn the copper windmill (in a clockwise direction) to attract good luck. Don’t forget to also pick up a lucky pinwheel to carry home good fortune!
An age-old tradition of Chinese New Year in Hong Kong, the Lam Tsuen Well-Wishing Festival attracts a sea of people every year to write their wishes on a placard, tie it to a mandarin, and throw it onto the wishing tree for a blessed new year.