Happy Lunar New Year to our global ENU Alumni Network! May the Year of the Dragon be good to you.

We spoke to alumni Andrew and Liz to learn how they celebrate the new year in different parts of the world. Andrew Wang is originally from China and now lives in Canada. Liz Yu is from Hong Kong and regularly travels between HK, London and Edinburgh for work.

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Andrew Wang

What does a Lunar New Year celebration look like in China?

Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, holds a special place in the hearts of many, including myself. It's the most important traditional festival in China, a beacon of family reunions and joyous celebrations.

In China, the festival transforms the country into a vibrant tapestry of red – the colour of good fortune and joy. Our homes and streets bloom with red lanterns, banners, and couplets, creating an atmosphere of warmth and festivity. The essence of Lunar New Year, however, lies in the heartwarming family gatherings. Many travel great distances to reunite with loved ones, a journey that's as emotional as it is physical.

The culinary delights are a cornerstone of the celebration. In my coastal hometown in China, the dinner table becomes a showcase of the ocean's bounty. A variety of seafood takes centre stage, celebrating not just the Lunar New Year but also our local flavours and family traditions. Each dish, from the symbolic fish representing abundance to the ever-popular dumplings symbolising wealth, is steeped in meaning and shared history.


How do I celebrate Lunar New Year in Canada?

In Canada, I've found joy in blending these rich traditions with the local culture. Our Lunar New Year feast here includes local seafood delicacies like lobsters. Their vibrant red hue perfectly complements our traditional colour theme, and their exquisite taste adds a luxurious touch to our celebrations. After the feast, the sky lights up with fireworks, a delightful spectacle that fascinates the children and adults alike. It's a beautiful way to bond with the younger members of the family and share our cultural heritage.

Any tips you’d like to share so other alumni can celebrate Lunar New Year where they are?

For those looking to celebrate Lunar New Year, there's a spectrum of ways to immerse in the festivities. While many prefer to honour the traditional customs, others, especially the younger generation, might opt for travel. Last year, for instance, my wife and I ventured to London to celebrate the Chinese New Year, embracing a fabulous holiday that blended cultural exploration with our festive spirit. Whether you choose the comfort of tradition or the thrill of new experiences, the core essence of Lunar New Year – family, renewal, and hope – remains universal.

These experiences, whether in the familiar streets of my hometown or in the diverse landscape of Canada, reinforce the true spirit of Lunar New Year. It's a festival that transcends geographical boundaries, uniting us in celebration, reflection, and anticipation of a prosperous new year.

Liz Yu

How d
o you celebrate the Lunar New Year in HK?

The celebration of the Lunar New Year is a significant and festive occasion for Chinese communities worldwide. Specific customs and traditions vary across regions, with reuniting with family members and setting off fireworks being common activities. Below are some other ways in which the Lunar New Year is recognised:

Festive decorations:

  • Homes and public spaces are adorned with red decorations. Red is considered a symbol of good luck and prosperity. Decorations may include red lanterns, banners, and paper cutouts with auspicious phrases and symbols.

Lion and dragon dances:

  • Traditional lion and dragon dances are performed in public spaces and during parades. The rhythmic movements of the lions and dragons are believed to bring good luck and scare away evil spirits.

Giving and receiving Red Envelopes (Hongbao or Ang Pao):

  • Adults, especially married couples, give children and unmarried family members red envelopes containing money. This is a gesture of good wishes and blessings for the new year.

Temple visits:

  • Many people visit temples during the Lunar New Year to pray for good fortune and make offerings to deities. It is a time for spiritual reflection and seeking blessings for the year ahead.

Cleaning and decluttering:

  • Before the New Year, cleaning and decluttering homes thoroughly is customary. This is believed to sweep away any bad luck and make room for good fortune in the coming year.

Wearing new clothes:

  • Wearing new clothes during the Lunar New Year is considered auspicious and symbolizes a fresh start. Red-coloured clothing is trendy during this time.

Food symbolism:

  • Certain foods hold symbolic meaning and are consumed during the celebrations. For example, dumplings represent wealth, fish symbolize surplus, and noodles are associated with longevity.

Any tips you’d like to share so other alumni can celebrate Lunar New Year where they are?

Certainly! If you're interested in celebrating Lunar New Year, here are some tips to help you embrace the festivities and traditions:

Learn about the traditions:

  • Take the time to learn about the customs associated with the Lunar New Year. This includes understanding the significance of certain foods, decorations, and rituals.

Participate in community celebrations:

  • Many cities host parades, performances, and festivals during this time, including some that are broadcast virtually. Check for events organised by local Chinese communities or cultural organisations. Also, Asian markets are a great place to pick up decorations, snacks, and ingredients for the Lunar New Year.

Decorate your home:

  • Add a touch of Lunar New Year to your home by incorporating red decorations. Red is considered auspicious and symbolizes good luck and prosperity. You can hang up red lanterns or banners and consider placing mandarin oranges around your space.

Prepare Lunar New Year foods:

  • Dumplings, spring rolls, fish, and sticky rice cakes are the traditional dishes enjoyed during this festive season.

Learn a Lunar New Year greeting:

  • You can just familiarize yourself with standard Lunar New Year greetings. A simple "Xin Nian Kuai Le" (Mandarin) or "Sun Nin Fai Lok" (Cantonese) to wish someone a happy new year can go a long way.

Share the experience with friends:

  • If you have friends from Chinese or other Asian cultures, express your interest in celebrating Lunar New Year with them. Sharing the experience can be a meaningful way to learn and connect.

Reflect and set intentions:

  • Embrace the spirit of renewal and reflection that comes with the Lunar New Year. Take a moment to set positive intentions for the coming year and express gratitude for the year that has passed.


Remember that the key is to approach the celebration with an open mind, a willingness to learn, and a genuine respect for the cultural significance of the occasion. Lunar New Year is a time for joy, unity, and the sharing of good wishes, and your participation can contribute to a sense of community and cultural exchange.

Stay in touch

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Follow the official Edinburgh Napier University WeChat account to keep up to date with ENU news and connect with fellow alumni in China. Please scan the QR code to follow us!

We’d love to know how you are celebrating the New Year! 

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