Posted by: sea2stars | February 25, 2010

Chinese New Year

I have always imagined Chinese New Year to be a time filled with lots of fireworks, parades, and dragons. We have all seen the colorful pictures of long dragons, held up by many people, dancing on the street. I had high expectations for this type of Chinese New Year only to find out that this holiday is more about family than about dragons. I’m sure the Chinese New Year of parades and dragons exists somewhere, but not in Taiwan.

Chinese New Year is really more about family. On Chinese New Years eve families get together for a large traditional dinner. It’s kind of like Christmas eve back home. Most of the stores are closed and families are tucked away in their homes enjoying the holiday with each other. It’s a night of celebration where children get new clothes and red envelopes filled with lucky money. All my kids at school were very excited about getting their red envelopes and from what I understand they get a substantial amount of money from their parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Here in Taiwan when you give money it has to be an even number and have nothing to do with the number 4 because it is unlucky, just like 13 is in America. This makes me wonder what other unlucky numbers there are in the world that I don’t know about. What the children are allowed to do with this money seems very dependent on the family structure and of course the age of the child. Some kids get to spend the money, other kids have to save all of it, and one of the kids in my class told me she has to us her lucky money to pay for English school. Children usually stop getting lucky money when they get their first jobs, usually after college. When that happens the roles are reversed and children have to give lucky money to their parents.

On Chinese New Year eve they usually stay up late and play games. Adults usually play a traditional game called mahjong. Mahjong is kind of a mix between poker, dominoes, and go fish. One of the Chinese teachers at school brought in her mahjong set to show me and tried to explain the rules, but I got very confused. She eventually gave up trying to explain it to me and told me to learn how to play on the internet.



  1. How interesting. Lucky money — I love it, though these days any money is lucky — Chinese New Year or not.

    I’m so glad you are chronicling all the stuff you are learning. It’s so cool.


  2. Thanks, I’m really enjoying put this blog together for myself and other people. It’s so interesting to learn about a new culture and gain some clarity on people I’ve known and stories I’ve heard. It’s also giving me a lot of new perspectives on the world.

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