What is the Chinese New Year Shopping Tradition?

Friday, February 23, 2024

As the Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, approaches, families embark on a time-honored tradition known as "Spring Festival shopping”. This practice involves purchasing various items and delicacies essential for celebrating the most significant festival in Chinese culture. Let's delve into the rich tradition of Chinese New Year shopping.

Preparing for the Festivities

Chinese New Year shopping typically begins weeks before the start of the festival. Families eagerly prepare by stocking up on a myriad of items, including food, decorations, clothing, and gifts. This shopping 购物 (gòu wù) spree is not merely a practical necessity but also a symbolic gesture to welcome prosperity, luck, and happiness into the new year.

购物 (gòuwù),noun,shopping

  1. She enjoys shopping.
    tā hěn xiǎnɡ shòu ɡòu wù。 
  2. My mom loves shopping a lot.
    Wǒ māmā hěn xǐhuān gòuwù.

Essential Chinese New Year Goods

Food and Ingredients: Traditional Chinese New Year dishes play a central role in the celebration. Families purchase ingredients such as fish, dumplings, spring rolls, rice cakes, and various fruits to prepare festive meals. These dishes are believed to bring blessings of abundance, wealth, and happiness.

Decorations: Red is the predominant color during Chinese New Year, symbolizing good luck and prosperity. Families adorn their homes with red lanterns, couplets (春联 - chūnlián), and paper-cuttings (剪纸 - jiǎnzhǐ) featuring auspicious phrases and symbols. These decorations create a festive atmosphere and ward off evil spirits.

New Clothes: Wearing new clothes during Chinese New Year symbolizes a fresh start and prosperity for the coming year. Families shop for new attire, particularly in vibrant red or other auspicious colors, to welcome the new year with style and optimism.

Gifts and Treats: Exchanging gifts is a customary practice during Chinese New Year. Families purchase traditional gifts such as red envelopes (红包 - hóngbāo) filled with money for children and relatives. Additionally, special treats like candies, nuts, and dried fruits are bought to offer guests 客人(kè rén) and visitors during the festivities.

客人 (kè rén), noun, guests


  1. The guests arrived at the party bearing gifts.
    Kèrénmen dàodá pàiduì bìng dàiláile lǐwù.
  2. Please welcome the guests into our home.
    Qǐng bǎ kèrénmen huānyíng jìn wǒmen jiālǐ.

The Joy of Family Bonding

Chinese New Year shopping is not merely a solo endeavor but a joyful family affair. Parents take their children along, involving them in the selection of goods and passing down cultural traditions from one generation to the next. Shopping trips become opportunities for bonding, sharing stories, and strengthening familial ties.

  • Let's go buy Chinese New Year goods at the market today.
    Jīntiān wǒmen qù shìchǎng mǎi niánhuò ba.
  • Can we buy some oranges for Chinese New Year?
    Wǒmen kěyǐ mǎi yīxiē chéngzi guò Zhōngguó xīnnián ma?
  • Of course, oranges symbolize luck and prosperity.
    Dāngrán kěyǐ, chéngzi xiàngzhēngzhe hǎoyùn hé fánróng.

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