Guest post by Nicole Wang

你好吗?(ni hao ma–how are you?) So next week will be Chinese New Year (also known as Spring Festival,春节chun1 jie2). The New Year’s Eve will be on 1/22, therefore the New Year will be 1/23. Chinese New Year for Chinese people is like Christmas for Americans.

Traditional Chinese New Year Foods

All family members come together and have big meal on the eve of Chinese New Year. Fish is a necessary course on that day since the pronunciation of fish(yu2) is correlated to a Chinese wish sentence: 年年有余(means may you always get more than what you wish for)(nian2 nian2 you3 yu2). Of course, dumplings are another mandatory course as well.

Traditional Chinese New Year Symbols

All families put the symbolic character 福(fu2) on their doors to expect good luck. Don’t get confused when you see this character upside down. People do that on purpose because it implies that good luck will come into the house. Family also put 春联(chun1 lian2) (new year scrolls) on both sides of the front door which also means everybody in the family will have good luck, or to imply best wishes to the country.

Traditional Chinese New Year Customs

During this biggest holiday, children as well as adults like to do fireworks and firecrackers. In ancient times the reason why people did that was because they believed that firecrackers as well as fireworks would push bad luck away. Chinese nowadays regard playing fireworks as a tradition and a fun game. Children are very happy at Chinese New Year because they get cash as presents. We call this Chinese New Year custom: 压岁钱(ya1 sui4 qian2). The reason why older people give younger people gift money is because custom has it that will steer bad luck away from children. The amount of money varies  depending on the income of the family.

Okay, you should celebrate Chinese New Year this time with your friends at Chinatown, since you are a Chinese expert now. Please let me know how your Chinese New Year will be. I look forward to hearing from you.

Nicole Wang holds a master degree at the University of Pennsylvania. Her personal background has been strongly related to East Asia as she grew up both in China and Japan. Nicole has been evolved in the field of Quantitative research, big data, MOOCs, evaluation, marketing, and language teaching. She can be reached at