Sabine's Lunar New Year in China

We are a little over a week into Lunch New Year but the celebration in most Asian countries have not stopped. Here in the U.S., most new year events are happening in remote Asian centered locations on the weekend. 

One of the major thing that we do during this time is visit family to 'bai nian' (拜年) which is wishing them good luck and fortune the coming year. Everything done around this time is to bring luck and ward off bad spirits. Something I just learned about 5 minutes ago, wear red if it is your zodiac year to bring luck. I always thought it was everyone who should wear red but as I am doing some research, it is mainly for those who's animal year it is.

Now, I would like to introduce you to our next Lunar New Year guest blogger! 

Meet Sabine! She introduced herself as a martial artist and nomad by heart. Her zodiac sign is the monkey (it’s her year! Wear red!) and she was on a quest through China to find the Kung Fu school that is right for her and just recently settled on one.

Sabine celebrated her first LNY in China three years ago and is not sure she really wants to do it again. Let’s find out why!

Before coming to China I had no clue that there was something like a lunar new year. I expected the whole world to celebrate New Year at the same time. Imagine my surprise spending the 1.1 in China three years ago and there was not even one single firework. (By the way even Shanghai has no New Years celebrations anymore, they banned it due to some accidents last year).

I heard about the Lunar New Year for the first time when my cousin was born in the year of the Dragon in Shanghai. He now has the Chinese name Hai Long (Water Dragon). From that time on I always wanted to celebrate Lunar New Year.

Three years ago, it happened. I studied Chinese Wushu in Qufu for 9 month and finally got the chance to celebrate Lunar New Year. And let me tell you one thing. The world goes craaaaaaaazy in China. You will never ever see that many people traveling around in your whole life again. Everybody goes home to their family. Tickets have to be booked several days or even better weeks in advance.

The celebration does not last for just one evening, even though the first night is the worst, it goes on for the whole week. You will notice the celebrations have started when you hear the fireworks. And not the pretty big fireworks, no, the noisy small firecrackers. Sometimes I had the feeling I was in a war zone. The fireworks are there to chase away evil spirits so the louder the better. The celebration starts at midnight on and goes until dawn. One thing, if you are in China and you want to buy fireworks, remember that they are not always the safest, so get away from them fast and light them in some distance to your house.

In Beijing I had one mission, to see a Dragon Dance. While my friends mostly partied I wanted to discover Beijing. So I visited a Temple and had to stand in the world’s longest line (no way that I was going to visit another temple after that). It lead all around the block about 5km of walking and it took me 2 hours to reached the temple entrance.

Everything inside was for good luck. Ring the bell, stand in the middle of a circle, throw coins on top of the roof of a fireplace. No matter what strange things the Chinese do during this time, it usually has something to do with luck.

There were also many markets in the parks where you could play games and win prizes, try all kind of food and buy puzzles. Loads of puzzles. I do not know why, but you could get them at every corner.

I loved the shows they had in the parks even though I couldn’t find the one thing I really wanted to see, the Lion Dance. But it was pretty hard figuring out which parade or show is going on and at what time if you can’t read any Chinese. I did see traditional dances, Tai Chi performances and heard some gruesome Chinese opera (not kidding, that ain’t singing, it’s screaming).

All in all it was great to see it once. Will I do it again? Not so sure, because that was just a tad to many people for me. While some days (the once in the middle when everybody visits their relatives) are pretty relaxed, the other days I would recommend you to hide at home till everything goes back to normal. Otherwise enjoy the fireworks and don’t forget to wear your red underwear, which is a must for a lucky year and don’t forget to get a new haircut, so that you are having a new and fresh start into the New Year ;)

So what do you think? Do you think you would want to fight the crowd to celebrate new years? I personally am not a big crowd person but would love to experience it at least once.

Sabine is still in China now searching for the right Kung Fu school for her. You can follow her journey over at Kung Fu Princess on the Road and connect with her on
All photos by Sabine.