8 Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year (even if you’re not in China)

Shop the Mini Satchel in Red

To celebrate the Chinese New Year, we’ve added a dog to our collection of Chinese zodiac embossing stamps. But not just any dog – this stamp is based on Julie’s beloved Boxer, Rupert who shot to stardom in the Google advert.

There has always been a close link between Cambridge and China; perhaps that’s why our brand has been so warmly received in China. As one of our largest markets, we have been keen to respect and learn more about the culture there. We are always fans of a celebration and so were keen to find out more about the Chinese New Year traditions.

Chinese New Year (otherwise known as the Spring Festival in China) is a three week-long celebration marking the start of the new lunar year. The next New Year falls on Friday, 16th February and marks the beginning of the Year of the Dog (the 11th sign in the 12 year Chinese zodiac cycle). We’re all dog-lovers around here, so we’re happy for any excuse to celebrate our favourite animal. Fun fact: those born in the year of the dog (1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018) are known as loyal, sincere, kind, intelligent and independent.

Many of the traditions seem like such excellent ideas that we are adopting them ourselves. Here are 8 of our favourite ways to mark the occasion:

Shop Dexter's Scarf

1. Make a clean start.

A week before the New Year, Chinese people will clean their houses thoroughly. The cleaning represents a wish to bid farewell to the old, and welcome in new good fortune by starting the year afresh. We see it as an excellent excuse for a good organising / de-cluttering session at home. What a good way to say goodbye to January!

2. Decorating the home.

After cleaning, people will decorate the house with red lanterns and other symbolic items to welcome the New Year. We’ll be interpreting this in our own way with some new candles and plants to welcome in the Spring.

3. Buy new clothes.

Anything old, worn-out or broken is considered very bad luck at this time, and the tradition is to buy and wear new items. We’re taking that as the perfect excuse to find a new bag to bring a classic outfit up to date and to add some much needed colour to a rather grey time of year.

4. Wear red.

Along with new clothes, red is the symbolic colour of Chinese New Year, and is believed to bring good luck for the coming year. Add a red bag to get your own share of good luck.

5. Lucky envelopes.

In China, people give red envelopes containing money to children, elderly relatives and colleagues. It is believed that the money will keep the recipients healthy and give them a long life. Why not make the tradition your own and send a sweet note to someone inside a red envelope to wish them a happy and healthy 2018? Everyone loves to receive post that isn’t a bill so this seems an especially thoughtful gesture.

6. Enjoy a Chinese feast.

Families celebrate the new year by having a feast together, in much the same way we celebrate Christmas here in England. In northern Chinese culture, dumplings (symbolic of money and abundance) are the luckiest food to eat, whilst in the south fish symbolises wealth and plenty. Head to Chinatown or your favourite Chinese restaurant and indulge in a delicious dim sum feast or just enjoy a family meal together – it’s the shared time that we take from this tradition.

7. Reach new heights.

In China it is traditional to ‘climb high and gaze far’ on New Year’s Day – said to bring good luck in business, study, or financial pursuits. What an excellent excuse to embrace the open air and open your mind to all the opportunities the coming year holds. There is nothing more uplifting than a walk with great views, so grab your wellies and set off.

8. The Lantern festival.

The end of the new year celebrations is marked by a lantern festival; where people will gather to light colourful lanterns to pray for good wishes for the year ahead, watch lion dances, and enjoy ‘lucky’ festival food such as tangyuan (sweet glutinous rice balls). We’ll be joining the celebrations in London’s Chinatown on Sunday 18th February, but there are lots of festivals being held all over the UK.

Let us know if you’re joining us in any of these traditions for Chinese New Year!