Lunar New Year

The guide to Lunar New Year in Hong Kong: the events, the celebration, the myths and where you fit in

Your questions on Chinese New Year will be answered

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 February, 2016, 1:42am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 February, 2016, 12:32pm

A celebration is about to hit the region to mark the Lunar New Year. It goes by different names in different countries across Asia, but in Hong Kong it’s the Chinese New Year, the beginning of a new Zodiac year in a cycle of 12 years, each represented by an animal. Locals know it simply as New Year.

For those unfamiliar with Chinese culture, the holiday can make being in Hong Kong confusing. There are many cultural and social pitfalls, but also opportunities to put a smile on someone’s face. Giving lai see, or red packets of crisp clean Hong Kong dollar notes, is an important way of showing your respect and wishing people in your life well in future endeavours. Get it wrong and you could be drinking bad coffee and getting dirty looks for the next year.

Despite the renowned explosions of fireworks, it’s not a celebration like New Year’s Eve. Over Chinese New Year, expect some shops to close, many colleagues to disappear into the embrace of family and for others to take an overseas trip.

We hope to provide you the basics, expand on usual customs and refer to resources that will illuminate this holiday.

Need to know: Chinese New Year fast facts

  • This coming lunar year will start on February 8
  • The 12-animal zodiac will switch from the goat or sheep to the monkey
  • Chinese New Year is a boon for travel, and a nightmare for travellers, as 3.6 billion trips are booked for the period in the region
  • Billions of Hong Kong dollars exchange hands in little red lai see packets, floral gifts, fruit, biscuits and large bets on the annual CNY horse races
  • It’s not necessarily lucky to have your zodiac year come up, so all the monkeys out there be warned and make sure you wear red underpants

How to use this guide

We’ve separated the complex topic of CNY into separate sections with themes: the myths, the celebrations, the events and where do I fit in? Use the inline links in the stories to move around the guide.

Get around the guide:


The myths of Chinese New Year


Where do I fit in?


Where do we go now? Chinese New Year events


The celebration of Chinese New Year