Watch List: Chinese New Year

Kung hei fat choi! Anybody from Hong Kong is familiar with the greeting.

Kung hei fat choi is the traditional way to wish somebody a happy Chinese New Year, which will be celebrated Jan. 31, 2014. The day changes each year since its celebration is based off of the lunar calendar.

“It’s usually a very auspicious time of year, so a lot of people try to buy houses or have kids around that time,” said senior Shikha Nayar, who grew up in Hong Kong.

To celebrate the propitious holiday, people hold large family dinners and exchange lycee packets, which are known as red envelopes in Western culture. These packets are filled with money or chocolate coins and given as a token of good luck, Nayar said.

Traditional Chinese New Year delicacies include aged duck eggs, known as century eggs, moon cake and a candy that Nayar referred to as “Grandpa’s beard.”

“It’s wispy and chewy, a little bit like cotton candy but peanut-filled,” she said.

Dragon dances, in which dancers manipulate a large serpent body, also occur annually. In Chinese culture, dragons are seen as auspicious animals.

Nayar noted that her favorite part of the holiday was the annual parade that she would dance in. Although she is not Chinese, she said everybody could partake in the festivities because they are a part of the community.

“I like seeing everyone in the streets whether they’re nine or 90 years old,” she said. “There’s a wide array of people who come out during the cold—even though Hong Kong isn’t that cold—and actually want to partake in the festivities.”

People living in Hong Kong also celebrate the “English” New Year, Nayar said, adding that the Lunar New Year is usually a more festive celebration.

“The entire city celebrates. You can tell that it’s the new year, even though we’ve technically had the English new year only a couple of months ago.”


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