The Red Color Meaning in Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year with DORE by LeTAO

The celebration of the Chinese New Year could last for days. It will start from the preparations for the New Year, the spring festival, and then the lantern festival as its closing. There are countless habits and customs surrounding Chinese New Year such as eating certain foods or desserts, giving gifts, and wearing or using red-colored items. Red has been identified as the color of Chinese New Year, but what does it mean? Let us break it down together.

The Color of Fortune

Color is an important element in Chinese culture. 2023 is the year of the water rabbit and it is believed to be the year of success and peace. The luckiest colors for this year are red, pink, purple, and blue. Red is known to be a celebratory color, hence it is often present in celebrations or events. The color symbolizes good fortune and prosperity. It also repels evil spirits and is part of ancient stories. It is believed that a monster called Nian would come on New Years’ Eve to eat people, crops, and livestock. The people then discovered that Nian feared brightness, explosion sound, and red. Since then, the people started to wear red to avoid the monster.

Red Ornaments

Other than clothes, many Chinese New Year decorations are also colored red. The most anticipated especially by children are red pockets or red envelopes. The elders usually give out money inside red pockets or red envelopes which is known as ‘lucky money’ or ‘New Year’s Money’. It is representing the blessing and fortune from the elders to the children. But there are other variations, such as the younger generation is the one who gives red envelopes to the elderly or married couples share their red envelopes with their unmarried acquaintances. It is believed that giving ‘lucky money’ started in the Han Dynasty. But back then, people used coins that were tied together and it was to repel evil spirits.

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