How to Celebrate Chinese New Year in London in 2021
Chinese New Year in London is all about celebrating the beginning of the new year on the lunar calendar and boy, the city deffo knows how to celebrate!
Each year, thousands of people go to the West End for a colourful parade, yummy traditional Chinese food, and free stage performances.
The festivities usually take place across the West End from Shaftesbury Avenue down to Trafalgar square, with plenty of foodie treats in Leicester Square.
Unfortunately, this year, students living and studying in the awesome city of London, won’t be able to celebrate Chinese New Year 2021 like usual ☹
But don’t worry! We’ve come up with some handy tips on how you can celebrate the occasion in a safe way, in your student accommodation.
1. Decorate Your Student Accommodation
Chinese New Year in London is always a massive celebration, which means decorating your student accommodation is absolutely necessary!
Purchase yourself a red lantern from Amazon which is believed to drive off bad luck, something we deffo need for 2021, right?
Other traditional decorations perfect for your student accommodation include paper cuttings that signify luck and happiness.
If you’re after some creative inspo, head over to Pinterest where you’ll find loads of unique decoration ideas that look super pretty!
Chinatown in London will be absolutely littered with vibrant decorations for Chinese New Year in London, so what better way to mark the occasion by putting your own spin on it.
Did you know? Blooming flowers are another traditional Chinese New Year decoration, particularly peonies and orchids, so pop down to your local florist (or supermarket) and treat yourself.
2. Have A Big Clean Up!
A new year is all about maximising your luck, so before the start of the Chinese New Year, many families deep clean their home.
This is to get rid of all the bad luck that may be lingering throughout the house, for a fresh new start and good vibes only.
FYI: you need to remember that any sort of cleaning is forbidden on the first day of the Chinese New Year, so you can’t wipe, sweep or wash away any good luck that may have arrived at midnight!
Basically, on the first day of the first lunar month, it’s said that you can’t sweep or throw away any rubbish, so remember that.
Also, there’s some bad news for serial nappers, because there’s actually a big taboo around napping on the first day of the spring festival, so make sure you don’t snooze! 😉
3. Have A Big Feast
It’s no doubt that Chinese New Year in London is always filled with delicious Chinese cuisine, so why not cook up a feast in your student accommodation?
There are plenty of traditional foods to satisfy your rumbling tummy this Chinese New Year, so let’s take a look at them!
Traditional Foods For Chinese New Year 2021
Sweet Rice Glutinous Rice Cake
This is usually translated as a “new year cake” and is made of glutinous rice flower, and can be sweet or savoury!
It’s usually a very sticky, dense cake, and is often eaten on Chinese New Year Eve – yummy.
Check out a cool recipe here!
A Whole Chicken
Mmm, now you’re talking! A whole chicken signifies unity and togetherness and is often something eaten on Chinese New Year.
The whole piece of meat symbolises the reunion of families, and although you may not be able to see your family this year, that doesn’t mean you can’t cook up something scrumptious.
There are loads of fabulous recipes online to sink your teeth into, take a look at this one for some inspiration!
Dumplings are another tradition for Chinese New Year, and are supposed to look like the ingot (gold and silver pieces used as money in ancient times!)
Some people believe dumplings to be lucky in terms of fortune, and the more you eat, the more money you’ll have for 2021 – woohoo.
If you deem yourself a reasonable cook, why not impress your mates and cook some dumplings from scratch?
4. Buy Something Red
Chinatown is the perfect place to for authentic Chinese shopping, and usually would be the first stop this Chinese New Year in London!
Unfortunately, due to the national lockdown, we’re all being urged to stay at home, but that doesn’t mean we can’t treat ourselves to a bit of online shopping.
The colour red is pretty much everywhere during Chinese New Year, as it’s said to symbolise good luck.
5. A Zoom Call With Family & Friends
During these uncertain times, the best thing we can do is come together and celebrate Chinese New Year In London with our loved ones – virtually!
Chinese New Year is all about the reunion of families, so call your family and friends for a catch-up and a chat.
It’s important to keep communication levels high during these uncertain times because there’s nothing like a good laugh to put a smile on your face.
6. Watch CCTV’s New Year Gala With Snacks!
The CCTV New Year’s Gala is bound to get you in the celebratory spirit if you’re celebrating Chinese New Year in London!
Produced by China Media Group, the show is broadcast annually and internationally through the China Global Television Network.
The variety show features drama performances, comedy, dance and music and is definitely a ritual for lots of Chinese families.
You can watch clips on CCTV’s Youtube Channel here, and make sure you’ve got plenty of yummy snacks whilst doing so.
Red dates, peanuts and sunflower seeds are all popular Chinese New Year snacks, as well as lucky candy if you feel like something sweet.
7. Gift Giving
There’s nothing like a cheeky bit of gift-giving to start the new year off right!
You could go traditional and give your friends a red envelope that usually contains money or go for something a little different.
Sweet candy is always a nice gift, but remember not to give anything black or white, as those colours are usually used at funerals – oops!
Other popular gifts include tea, fruits, and healthy foods.
8. Stay Up Until Midnight
This one may be a little obvious because everyone stays up until midnight on New Years Eve!
But, Chinese New Year in London can be particularly special after midnight, especially if you listen and look out for the many fireworks.
Staying up late on Chinese New Year is said to bring longevity to your parents, it’s said that the later you stay up, the longer they will live!
Known as “守岁 shǒu suì”, it’s a tradition to stay up and watch the CCTV gala after a big reunion dinner, which you can do in your student accommodation.
9. Celebrate The Lantern Festival
The Chinese New Year festival comes to an end with Yuan Xiao (元宵节 / yuán xiāo jié), known as the lantern festival!
It began over 2000 years ago, and some even say this is the “true” Chinese Valentine’s Day.
Again, the food involves family reunion dinners with foods such as glutinous rice dumplings.
Get involved and make your own Chinese lantern, a fun-filled activity you can easily do with your flatmates.
Most of all, this occasion is all about relaxing after days of celebrating, and looking back on the year.
10. Be Positive
Chinese New Year is all about celebrating goodwill and spreading happiness, so try to avoid any arguments or bad vibes during your celebrations.
Try to ignore the fact your flatmate might have used the last of your milk, and try to be as kind and positive as possible 😊
Generally, on Chinese New Year, you need to enjoy your time with family and friends (even virtually.)
So relax and welcome this Chinese New Year in London with positivity and a big smile, because that’s what this occasion is all about!
We hope you found these tips useful as a student studying in London, of course, celebrations for Chinese New Year in London are going to be very different this year – but that’s okay. Just keep smiling, eat yummy food, enjoy your company and count your blessings! Are you a student studying in Manchester? Check out our tips on how to celebrate Chinese New Year in Manchester in our latest blog here.