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新年快乐 – or as we might say, Happy New Year!

On 8th February we will celebrate Chinese New Year - heralding the year of the Monkey.

China is an important market for many countries around the world, and in a culture where saving face is so important, it’s often useful to understand their traditions and celebrations.

Washing away your fortune

Did you know that you must not wash your hair on the first day of the lunar year?

In Chinese the character for Hair (发) is the same as fa in facai (发财), which means ’to become wealthy’. Washing one's hair is therefore thought of as “wash one’s fortune away” - that’s not how anybody wants to start the New Year.

Giving red envelopes to pass on best wishes

New Year is the most important family holiday in China and one of the best known and well-observed customs is giving little red envelopes with money to children, older (non-working) relatives and employees. Called “lai see” in Cantonese or “hongbao” in Mandarin, these gifts can range in value from £5 to £200, with employees receiving anywhere between £5 and £150.

The colour of the envelope is of particular significance as red is regarded as the symbol of energy, happiness and good luck. It is very impolite to open the envelope in front of the person giving it.

Quick Tip

Are you planning on being in China for the New Year? If so we don’t recommend travelling, as half of the near 1,400,000,000 population will be on the move.

For more information visit or call +44 (0)1252 720419

About the author:

By Gustavo Aranda, Business Development Manager at Farnham Castle Intercultural Training. Farnham Castle Intercultural Training is a leading provider of global cultural expertise for business, working with business and organisations to improve business performance by ensuring that employees have the skills necessary to work more effectively in any country worldwide. Working with leading national and international companies, educational institutions and British and overseas government agencies, Farnham Castle design, develop and deliver intercultural training solutions.