Lunar New Year celebrations can get confusing. Don’t fear — here’s our top eight things to do for Chinese New Year!
8. Give Lai See
Not sure how much to put in that red pocket? Here’s our handy guide to spread festive cheer:
$20 for an acquaintance you see regularly but don’t know well, such as a doorman.
$40 for somebody close to you such as friends’ children or your hairdresser.
$100 as a generous gift to someone you care about and is generally the minimum a boss gives an employee.
$500-plus – this is not unheard of, but it is usually given with a good motive or during birthdays or weddings.
Do say: “Sun Tai Kin Hong” – when giving lai see to express wishes of good health.
The 15-day grace period
Lunar New Year is celebrated for 15 days from day one of the lunar calendar, and lai see is given only during this period – not before or after. This year, the grace period falls from January 28 until February 11.
7. Watch the Chinese New Year Night Parade – JAN 28
The Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade has been the highlight of the season in Hong Kong for over 20 years. The parade features spectacular floats and international performers including marching bands, cheerleaders and dance troupes as they make their way through the streets of Tsim Sha Tsui.
The parade starts at 8pm and free-standing spectators can watch the show along Canton Road, Haiphong Road and Nathan Road. Arrive early as the crowds can get busy.
Ticketed spectator stands open from 7pm and tickets can be bought from the Hong Kong Tourism Board Visitor Centre at the Star Ferry Concourse in Tsim Sha Tsui.
6. Visit the Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree
The Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees are a popular shrine located in Fong Ma Po village near to Tai Po. The two banyan trees are visited by thousands of people during Lunar New Year celebrations. Previously, joss paper was tied to an orange and thrown into the tree in an attempt to hang it from a high branch to bring good luck. While the tree undergoes a period of recovery, wooden racks have been erected besides the trees to hang wishes from. An artificial tree now stands next to the Tin Hau Temple to allow fortune-seekers holding plastic mandarins with wishes attached top throw onto the branches. One mandarin should be about $25.
Take bus 64K or 64P from Tai Po Market station, get off at Fang Ma Po.
5. Watch the firework display
Grab a good spot along the harbour to catch the amazing annual fireworks show. Fireworks and firecrackers are believed to scare away evil spirits, so expect a spectacular display. The fireworks usually take place on the second day of the Lunar New Year – January 29 this year. Visit www.discoverhongkong.com for more details.
4. Win big at Chinese New Year Race Day – Jan 30
Strike it lucky on the first races of the year at Sha Tin Racecourse. Hopeful punters descend on the course with the first races of the day starting from 11am. Visit www.hkjc.com for more details.
3. Visit the Flower Markets
Brace the crowds and visit the flower markets to brighten up your home during Lunar New Year. The biggest of all takes place at Victoria Park which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Orchids are particularly auspicious to buy but any flowering plant that takes your eye will do. Offerings have expanded far beyond flowers and plants in recent years as visitors can also pick up decorations, homeware items and souvenirs. Jostle with the crowds on the last day of the market to pick up a bargain when prices are slashed.
2. Clean up
Homes are thoroughly cleaned in the run up to Lunar New Year, with dust swept into the middle of the room and then out the door to symbolise sweeping bad luck away. Going one step further, some homeowners paint door frames and windows in order to welcome good luck in. However, it is considered bad luck to clean during New Year week, as you may sweep away the good fortune – so get your home in order before January 28.
1. Buy a kumquat tree
Oranges symbolise abundant happiness, while tangerines with the leaves attached have the additional meaning of a secure relationship between giver and receiver, making them popular gifts at Lunar New Year. Many homes are adorned with potted kumquat trees, studded with tiny orange fruit that symbolise prosperity and good fortune. The fruit’s Chinese name, kam gat shu, sounds like the words for luck and gold. Attach red lai see packets containing a banknote for a really authentic touch. Bear in mind that the trees are grown more for aesthetic appeal than for great-tasting fruit.