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Celebrating Chinese New Year

By HannahFriday 20th January 2017

The Chinese New Year is an age-old tradition that is celebrated each January or February, depending on the lunar calendar. Our Quantum of the Seas ship travels to China all year round, so whether you want to visit during the New Year celebrations or not, it’s up to you! We’re here to fill you in on the different ways in which the Chinese New Year is celebrated, as well as give you some advice on which places to visit when taking an adventure in Asia.


What is Chinese New Year?

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The tradition of Chinese New Year started thousands of years ago, and is shrouded in mystery and mythology. Legend has it that the festival of the New Year started with a fight against a mythical beast called the ‘Nian’, which is also the Chinese word for ‘year’. The Nian is said to have resembled an ox with a lion’s head, and lived in the depths of the sea. On New Year’s Eve, the story goes that the creature would set out to wreak havoc on the town, eating livestock and children. One year, one man decided to stand up to the Nian, covering the town in red paper and lanterns, and setting off firecrackers. The next morning, the locals awoke to discover their town unharmed, which is how they learned that the creature feared the colour red, as well as fire and loud sounds. And this is why decorations for the event are still predominantly red in colour, hanging lanterns are lit, and fireworks are set off to mark the celebration.

The 12 Animals of the Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese New Year, or ‘The Spring Festival’ to the Chinese, is annually celebrated by one of twelve rotating animals. This is known as the animal zodiac, or ‘shengxiao’. The cycle repeats itself after twelve years have passed, with each one being represented by a different animal with different attributes, which are supposed to be imparted to those born under its sign.
The 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac either each have lucky meanings or are closely related to ancient Chinese people’s daily lives. In order, the 12 animals are: Rat  Ox  Tiger  → Rabbit  → Dragon  → Snake  → Horse  → Goat  → Monkey  → Rooster  → Dog  → Pig

Other Chinese New Year Facts


Which is your zodiac animal?

Your zodiac year is determined by which animal of the Chinese Zodiac was in rotation when you were born. According to ancient Chinese superstition, it is bad luck when your zodiac year comes around every twelve years. The best way to avoid the bad luck is to wear something red that an elderly relative has given you, such as red socks, a red necklace or a red woven bracelet.

Giving Red Envelopes to Wish Others Luck

People exchange gifts during this time, usually in the form of a red envelope that contains money. Giving a red envelope, or ‘Hongbao’ to a loved one, is very much like Christmas in the West. These are only given to children, (retired) seniors and employees.

What NOT to do on the First Day of Chinese New Year


A number of things are seen as ‘taboo’ if they are done on the first day of the Spring Festival.


1. Avoid taking medicine.

If a person is to take medicine on the first day of the lunar year, it is believed that he or she will get ill for a whole year.

2. Don't sweep, clean, or take out the rubbish.

The act of sweeping or cleaning on this day is associated with ‘sweeping wealth away’. Taking out the rubbish symbolises throwing away any good luck or good fortune from your home!

3. Don't eat porridge for breakfast.

Porridge should not be eaten for breakfast, as it is thought that only poor people eat porridge for breakfast, and people don't want to start the year ‘poor’, as this is a bad omen.

4. Don’t wash clothes and hair.

People do not wash clothes on the first and second day of the new year, because these two days are celebrated as the birthday of ‘Shuishen’, the Water God.  It is seen as ‘washing one’s fortune away’ at the beginning of the new year.

Where do we take you in Asia?

Though rural areas and small towns in China are more likely to celebrate the traditional New Year festivities than the cities, we visit a number of locations in Asia where you could potentially catch the celebrations. But no matter what time of year you visit, you’ll find China to be an incredible destination to explore.


Tianjin is a bustling city, often compared to neighbouring Beijing because of its awe-inspiring skyline. The capital boasts a river promenade and an abundance of things to see, including the world’s largest sound and light show and a stunning night market – the perfect destination for the city-dwelling traveller.
A juxtaposition of traditional Chinese architecture and the modern, you’ll experience the best of both worlds in picturesque Tianjin. Feeling brave? Ascend the Tianjin Radio and Television Tower, the 8th tallest freestanding tower in the world
Make a stop at the biggest Food Mall in the world, known as Nanshi Food Mall. Indulge in over 100 stalls that sell delicious Chinese delicacies, including Goubuli, a type of steamed stuffed bun, and Erduoyan, a sweet fried cake. There may be some long queues, but locals would argue that it’s well worth the wait to get your hands on these mouth-watering treats. Look out for traditional dumplings and New Year Cake if your visit falls over the New Year!
A little further inland from Tianjin is Beijing, where you can retrace the steps of the last Emperor in the Forbidden City, pay homage to the gods at the Temple of Heaven, or make a pilgrimage to the magnificent Great Wall.

The Great Wall of China

Fancy visiting China’s most famous landmark? The monument has sections that are as old as 7th Century BCE. It stretches over five and a half thousand miles, so it’s best to choose a small section to explore! ‘Mutianyu’ is a fully-restored, child-friendly section of the wall, which is advisable for those with little ones who don’t want to get too tired.
The wall is one of the greatest human feats in history. It is considered one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so make sure you take your camera with you for the ultimate extraordinary snap. If you want to hear more about the structure’s magnificent history, then we suggest that you take a guided tour, just to make sure you don’t miss out on any interesting facts!


Perhaps not the best for those afraid of heights, the Shanghai Tower was officially declared the tallest building in the world in 2016. If you’re feeling up to it, we highly recommend ascending to the top to take in the breath-taking views of the Shanghai skyline. Be sure to pack your camera, as you’ll no doubt want a couple of photos to remind you of this once in a lifetime experience for years to come.
And a trip to Shanghai wouldn’t be complete without a walk along the famous Bund, a waterfront promenade lined with colonial-era buildings, juxtaposed with the modern skyscrapers on the other side of the river. Treat yourself to authentic silks, fashion, ceramics, and antiques in the city’s vibrant markets, souvenir stalls, and boutiques, or enjoy a memorable cruise on the Huangpu River. You can also catch an acrobatics performance or indulge in a visit to the Chinese Opera for a truly thrilling taste of the Orient.

Interested in an adventure onboard Quantum of the Seas? Explore more holiday destinations in Asia for the ultimate extraordinary experience.  

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