Happy Chinese New Year!
Today marks the beginning of Chinese New Year, and 2021 sees the transition into the Year of the Ox.
Celebrations in the UK won’t quite be the same the year. The ongoing restrictions will mean many families and communities won’t be celebrating in ways they usually would.
However, many people will still be able to mark the occasion at home, whether that be alone or with loved ones.
We spoke to two of our fabulous X1 team members, Kirstie and Sophia, who told us how they’ll be celebrating this year.
How would you normally celebrate New Year?
Kirstie: If we’re celebrating in the UK, we have family and close friends gather for home-cooked meals or a big meal in a Chinese restaurant. This usually lasts all day/night. We would try to book that day off from any other plans, as it’s quite a big event for us, so that we can gather with our close ones. Each year – except this year – there would be a CNY event in ChinaTown with dragons, performances, music and LOTS of different food stalls.
In Hong Kong, all the street will be filled with people on CNY, even very late at night! We celebrate similar to how we do in the UK – except there are more people! My family and I would usually go to a chinese restaurant around midday for some dim sum, then during the evening we get together with the whole fam for a meal. If we were to visit another household, we would bring gifts to thank them for inviting us over. The most exciting part are the Red Envelopes! Anyone who isn’t yet married (usually youngsters including myself) will receive red envelopes of money from the elders. But, in order to receive the envelopes, we have to greet them with the infamous Chinese New Year phrases! The most common phrases are:
Sophia: If I’m celebrating in China, there are 3 things me and my family do:
Making & eating dumplings! This is the most traditional thing among Chinese families at New Year. We insert a coin in the dumpling and there’s always a competition to see who can eat the most and find the coin. The winner gets good luck for the year ahead! 🥟
Watch the Chinese New Year Gala. This is a nationwide event and the gala will start after a speech from our country’s leader. It begins at 8pm and finishes at midnight, and there’s singing, dancing and comedy!
Set a bonfire. The louder and brighter the better! This means it’s going to be a good year ahead. My grandpa always takes the lead on this.
How will you be celebrating this year?
Kirstie: Due to restrictions and not being able to fly out to Hong Kong, I’ll just be staying in with the parents and having a home cooked meal. Luckily, I’ll still be receiving at least x2 Red Envelopes (one from each parent!). We’ll also video call with the rest of the family across the world. I have some family in Hong Kong, China, Switzerland, Canada and Vietnam.
Sophia: If I can go home, I’m sure my mum will cook a family meal for us and make dumplings! I’ll also video call my grandparents who are in China and bring them good wishes – and ask for Red Envelopes!
What is your favourite New Year tradition?
Kirstie: Definitely receiving Red Envelopes! More envelopes = more money 🧧
Sophia: Family time for sure. When I’m in China it’s always a big family gathering. We cook, eat, laugh and make wishes for the year ahead.
Can you recommend a great New Year dish?
Kirstie: My personal favourite is seafood, especially lobsters! There isn’t much different between meals on Chinese New Year and any other occasion. The only difference is that we eat much ‘wealthier’ on New Year, so we tend to spend more on expensive food such as lobsters, abalones, duck and crab.
Sophia: I was born in a seaside city, so myfamily love to make shrimp dumplings. They taste really good!
If you’d like to find out more about Chinese New Year and all its traditions, click here!