Share on print
Share on email
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin

8 Chinese New Year Traditions In Hong Kong

And How To Get The Kids Involved

2021 Feb 12 - 2021 Feb 16

The Year of Ox is approaching. Here are some unique Chinese New Year traditions in Hong Kong you may want to know about to get ready for the most important Chinese festival of the whole year!

  • LAI SEE: Chinese New Year Tradition In Hong Kong

    Lai See means good luck. They are red packets filled with money. It is a kind of blessing given from the senior to the junior, from elderlies to children, from married couples to unmarried friends. The amount of money you put inside depends on your relationship with the receiver, usually the closer the more.

    Generally speaking, HK$20 is a proper amount to give out, for example, to the security guard at your building or friends' children; but when the relationship gets closer, or you are having constant contact with the person, you may want to raise the amount a bit more to around HK$50. To your closest circle of family members, you may want to increase the amount even higher to HK$100 or more. One important note: do not give increments of 4 in Lai See, because the pronunciation of 4 sounds similar to death in Chinese.


    How to get kids involved:

    Invite your kids to help you pack the Lai Sees. They can have fun slipping the notes inside and you can teach them about money management at the same time! Just remember to check before closing the envelope to see if they put too much in one packet!


    Get your red packets:

    Shop online to customize your red packets from PaperhouseBynock DesignThe Lion Rock Press. Most of the local stationery stores sell them - check out our favorite arts & crafts supplies in HK for details.

  • WEAR RED: Chinese New Year Tradition In Hong Kong

    Red is the color for Chinese New Year. It is a color meaning good luck, so it is prevalent to dress in red color during this time; avoid wearing dark colored clothing, especially black and white, which carry the bad meaning of death and misfortune. Not only should you should wear red in your outfit, but it’s also best if you could wear red underwear so that you will be blessed from the inside out. Moreover, Chinese New Year should be about something NEW! So, wear new clothes, from head to toe, to ensure a brand new start for the New Year.


    How to get kids involved:

    Go shopping with your kids and buy some new red clothes! Want to be special and pretty? How about buying a cheongsam/qipao, a kind of traditional Chinese clothing to be worn on special occasions. If wearing a one-piece traditional Cheongsam is too much for you, adults can opt for jackets with traditional Chinese prints to match with your kids’ CNY outfits.


    Chinese New Year Outfits And Cheongsams For Kids, click here

  • CHOOSING A "LUCKY PLANT": Chinese New Year Tradition In Hong Kong

    Just like Christmas, the Chinese also decorate their homes or offices during CNY with lucky plants! There are different meanings for different plants. For example, lucky bamboo and mandarin oranges symbolize luck and prosperity; cherry blossom means a fresh start for the year, and water lily represents new growth. Click here for the top flower markets to visit and a list of the best lucky plants and flowers to buy.


    How to get kids involved:

    Go and select your favorite lucky plants at the annual Chinese New Year Flower Market at Victoria Park. Assign them to take care of the plants and develop their sense of responsibility. For fun, you can also ask the kids to decorate the mandarin orange trees with red packets to add luckiness to your plant.

  • EAT TURNIP & YEAR CAKE: Chinese New Year Tradition In Hong Kong

    How can one celebrate the most important festival of the year without some good food! Turnip cake and year cake are traditional foods to eat during CNY. The pronunciation of cake is similar to height, so it is said that children eating Year Cake/ Nian Gao, will grow taller and stay healthy for the year! Turnip cake is a savory usually served as breakfast during CNY while Year Cake is a sweet cake made with glutinous rice flour and brown sugar. You can buy it from Chinese restaurants or Chinese cake shops; or if you have the time, you can make your own. They are cooked when you buy them, so you just have to reheat them by pan-frying until they are soft and turn slightly crispy on the outside! Remember to serve them with a cup of hot Chinese tea to help digestion.


    How to get kids involved:

    Try making your own turnip cake or year cake (or both) at home with kids! You can easily find nice recipes online and on YouTube. They are challenging and hard to make, but it will be a fun activity to do for the whole family.

  • CLEAN & DECORATE YOUR HOME: Chinese New Year Tradition In Hong Kong

    A lot of preparation work has to be done before CNY- buying presents for your family and friends, shopping for new clothes; and of course, a complete cleaning of your house. Clearing away the old stuff signifies the meaning of removing the old and welcoming the new. As your friends will make home visits during CNY, it’s also useful to tidy up your home before CNY. After cleaning your home, it’s time for decoration! To make your house look festive, Chinese love to put DuiLian decorations, which are blessings written in Chinese calligraphy on red papers, delicate paper cutting and a Chinese candy box filled with different kinds of sweets at home.


    How to get kids involved:

    Clean the house with your kids, everyone has to help to prepare for the arrival of CNY. There are different designs for the Chinese candy box, go shop for a nice one with your kids and fill it up with candies. Also, ask them to stick the red paper blessings around the house as decoration. If your kids know how to write in Chinese, you can even buy red paper, and let them write their own DuiLians!

  • GET A HAIRCUT AND PEDICURE BEFORE CNY: Chinese New Year Tradition In Hong Kong

    During CNY, everyone is busy visiting family and friends, so getting a good haircut and pedicure for CNY gives you a good start for the year ahead. It is one of the superstitions in Chinese New Year traditions that getting a haircut in the first month of the lunar month cuts away your good luck so make sure to make an appointment before CNY arrives!


    How to get kids involved:

    Take your kids to the hair salon with you and get a new look for the new year together! Click here for our kid-friendly haircut guide.

  • 8 Chinese New Year Traditions - Lion Dance Shows

    LION DANCE SHOWS: Chinese New Year Tradition In Hong Kong

    Lion dance performances are essential in the Chinese New Year celebration. The Lion is the symbol of power and good fortune, and a dancing lion can drive away from the evil spirits and bad luck. The performance combines Chinese martial arts with glamorous costumes. Usually, the show ends with the lion eating green vegetables, munching them, and then throwing them back to the audience. As green vegetables are pronounced as “cai” in Chinese, which sounds similar to luck; eating it means grabbing the luck, and throwing it back means spreading the blessing to the audience.


    How to get kids involved:

    Watch a Lion Dance show with your kids happening in different parts of Hong Kong.

  • LAST TIPS: USEFUL GREETINGS IN CHINESE: Chinese New Year Tradition In Hong Kong

    Here are some blessing phrases in Cantonese, so you know how to greet your friends during CNY!

    • “Gung Hey Fat Choy” – wishing people prosperity
    • “Sun Nin Fai Lock” – wishing people a happy new year
    • “Sang E Hing Long” – wishing businesses to have a thriving and prosperous year ahead
    • “Sun Tai Keen Hong” – wishing people good health
    •  “Sum Seung See Sing” – may all your wishes come true!

Additional Info:​

Want more? 

Click here for top CNY activities for kids in Hong Kong!

Share on print
Share on email
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Want More? Sign up for the Little Steps e-newsletter!
Sign Up
Tips. Deals. Events.


Download The Ultimate Moving Checklist For Families Now!

Hong Kong Articles

Sign up to our weekly newsletter and download
The Ultimate Hong Kong Bucket List For Families!