How Do People in Different Countries Celebrate Chinese New Year?

January 18, 2017  Editor: Gretchen Zhou
How Do People in Different Countries Celebrate Chinese New Year?
How countries around the world celebrate Chinese New Year? []


When New Year comes, Chinese people hang red lanterns, paste paper-cut on the window, set off firecrackers and have New Year's Eve dinner with families. It is not well known that many people outside of China also share the tradition of celebrating the nation's annual New Year festival.

But how do customs vary from place to place? Let's take a look at how countries around the world celebrate Chinese New Year.

ROK: Family Reunion, Rice Cakes

Spring Festival is one of the biggest celebrations in the Republic of Korea. Hence, they have a three-day holiday on the occasion, which is also the longest in their calendar.

Just like Chinese people, they go home for a family reunion at this time. Therefore, the days before the New Year's Eve see a Korean version of the "Spring Festival migration." It's estimated that two out of every five Koreans celebrate Spring Festival at home. 

People who like watching Korean TV series will have often seen them eating New Year rice cakes. It is served as the first meal on the first day of the New Year since it carries an auspicious meaning of embracing the brightness of the sun and the pureness of nature.

Vietnam: Peach Blossoms, Kumquat, 'Zongzi'  

There are two essential ingredients in Vietnamese Spring Festival: peach blossoms and kumquat. The former is used to ward off bad luck whilst the latter symbolizes auspiciousness. On the first day of New Year, most Vietnamese eat zongzi, a kind of rice-pudding derived from Chinese Dragon Boat Festival.

Singapore: Catch the Fish

The liveliest Spring Festival activity in Singapore is called "catching the fish": first, families put fish, vegetables and fruit on a plate; then, players start a game of “catching the fish” with the winner being the person who gets the most. The game follows the idiom of nian nian you yu, which means "having enough things to spend every year."

Malaysia: Lion Dances

Malaysian Chinese buy pineapples and tangerines on Spring Festival for good luck. In addition, as a mixture of Buddhist and Christian culture, lion dances take place in churches. This mixture endows Malaysian people with a dynamic and innovative Spring Festival.

Thailand: Red Lanterns, Rice Cakes

On New Year's Day, Thai people commonly listen to the songs of Chinese singer Deng Lijun, hang up red lanterns and eat New Year rice cakes and peaches. Some also send four tangerines as gifts to relatives and friends. Then, as is the custom, two of the tangerines should be returned.

Beside these countries, people in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Indonesia also celebrate Chinese New Year. Have you had a special Spring Festival yet?

(Source: and edited by Women of China)

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