Chinese New Year 101

The Lunar New Year, also known as the "Spring Festival", is a major holiday for the Chinese community and is a time for family reunion and to give thanks. Unlike the Christian New Year, which is based on the solar calendar, the Chinese New Year is based on the lunisolar calendar, so it is the start of the solar year, plus the phase of the moon. This is why it falls on a different date of the solar calendar each year. February 8th in 2016. The celebrations start on the first new moon phase of the solar year and ends 15 days later on the full moon, which is marked with the Lantern Festival.

Chinese folklore says that a mythical beast called "Nian" would terrorize villages, eating livestock and children. Nian was afraid of the colour red and loud noises, so villagers hung red paper around their homes and set off firecrackers to scare away Nian, keeping their villages safe. This tradition is celebrated in modern times by hanging red lanterns and setting off fireworks and firecrackers during the New Year's celebrations.

Traditional religious ceremonies are held to honour the Heaven and Earth, the Gods of the household and family ancestors.The Chinese New Year is steeped in symbolism and bringing the proper gift when visiting during the Chinese New Year is crucial.

What Gifts to Bring:

Liquor, tobacco, tea, fruits (especially oranges), red envelopes




What Gifts NOT to Bring:

Chrysanthemums, cut flowers, anything white or black, mirrors, shoes, sharp objects, 4 of anything, handkerchiefs or pears,

Food, Flowers and Plants

The Chinese New Year traditions and symbolism include flowers, fruits and plants. Here are some of the symbolic meanings of plants and food for the Chinese New Year:


Candied Melon - Growth and good health

Chicken and Fish (served whole) - Happiness and prosperity

Chinese Dumplings - Money and wealth

Eggs - Fertility

Lychee Nut - Strong family relationships

Mandarin - Abundance and sweetness.

Oranges and Tangerine - Abundance and happiness.

Peach Fruit - Longevity

Peanuts - Long life

Seeds (Lotus, Sunflower Pumpkin etc) - Fertility (many children)


Bamboo - Compatibility, resilience, integrity and uprightness

Evergreens - Longevity and steadiness

Kumquat trees - Prosperity, gold, luck and wealth

Narcissus - Good fortune and prosperity

Orchids - Purity and elegance

Peach Blossoms - Romance, prosperity and growth (popular with singles looking for love) also the strongest defense against evil

Peonies - Wealth, honour, feminine beauty, innocence, affection and charm

Plum Blossoms - Luckiness, courage, reliability, endurance

Pussy Willows - The buds represent the growth of prosperity

Live Blooms/Blooming Plants - Rebirth and new growth

Fresh Flowers - Wealth, career success

Frankie and his team have incorporated some of these symbolic plants into the interior plantscape design at Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto. Look for them beginning on January 6th, 2016.