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The 15 days of Chinese New Year — prepare for fortune and joy

Turning pinwheel

You may have heard of the 12 days of Christmas, but what about the 15 days of Chinese New Year (CNY)? Hongkongers don’t leave luck to chance — it’s all about preparation. Paying respects to ancestors. Spring cleaning. Buying auspicious items (and avoiding unlucky purchases). Here's a guide to the festival and how we can all ensure good fortune for CNY.

Festive snacks for CNY

The days leading up to Chinese New Year's Eve

Out with the old, in with the new! The house has survived a furious spring clean and red banners with auspicious couplets have been diligently pasted on the front door. Shop for new clothes, festive snacks and traditional banquet foods. New trousers are a favourite as the pronunciation in Cantonese sounds like ‘wealth’.

tangerine

Chinese New Year's Eve

Today is all about a sumptuous family reunion meal at home. There’s nothing quite like sitting around a mouthwatering big bowl dinner together to start the year with abundance. To set the perfect scene, decorate with flowers and greenery that attract good luck and fortune.

Festive banque food for CNY

Day 1 — Chinese New Year's Day

Today people would normally drop by to visit relatives, exchange New Year greetings, lucky gifts and lai see (red packets) with cash. They will also pop into a temple to light incense and pay respects to their ancestors. Something Hongkongers won’t be found doing today is sweeping — that would mean sweeping away their good fortune! The day is capped off with a family feast.

CNY e-Card

Day 2 — blessings and birthday love

Today is the day that married women usually visit their parents, as well as the birthday of Che Kung, a deity famed for being able to suppress plagues and perform miracles.

Horse racing

Day 3 — keep calm and pick a winner

The third day of the year is unfortunately considered a likely time to get into a spat. It's therefore advised to avoid argumentative types on this day. Locals would usually hit the track today for some horse-racing action, and (try to) win some money at the races.

Online mini game

Day 4 — try your luck as you get back to work

After three days of downtime, Hong Kong is finally getting back to work and ‘day four face’ offers a hint of how most Hongkongers feel about this.

Days 5 to 14 — happy moments

The seventh day of Chinese New Year is the common man's birthday. Remember to wish yourself and everyone you meet a happy birthday! Around days 13 and 14 it’s time to prepare for day 15 with more lucky food preparations.

Tangyuen

Day 15 — full moon, full hearts

Also known as the Spring Lantern Festival or informally, 'Chinese Valentine's Day'. In the past, singles would play matchmaking games on this auspicious day. As families gather to appreciate the full moon and try to guess lantern riddles, tangyuen is a popular dessert. The round shape of these sweet glutinous rice balls (often with a filling) symbolises wholeness and togetherness, so eating tangyuen can bring happiness and luck for the whole family in the year ahead.

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