How to Decorate for Chinese New Year – 5 Old Vs. 5 Modern Decorations

To celebrate the Chinese New Year, Chinese people always put up the New Year decorations about one week before. These include traditional decorations like Spring Festival couplets and Fu character pictures, which will be done on New Year's Eve. As time goes by, there are more and more modern decorations appearing in people's houses. However, red is still the dominant hue of the New Year. Hereunder are the most common 10 Chinese New Year decorations, 5 old vs. 5 modern ones. How much do you know about it?

5 Traditional Chinese New Year Decorations


1. Spring Festival Couplets

Spring Festival CoupletsThe Spring Festival Couplets, also called door couplets, are used to paste on the two sides of the doors to express good wishes of the New Year. They are always written in black ink on red paper, which is bright and elegant. The sentences of the couplets need to be written in form with symmetry and neatness. As for the contents, most people will choose to express the auspiciousness and wishes for the coming year. So it’s also a very interesting thing to observe the couplets of some families and sometimes the couplets will reflect their ideas about happiness. This traditional custom originated from the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279) but popularized in the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) until now.

Read more about Spring Festival couplets.


2. Fu Characters & New Year Paintings

Fu characterThe Fu characters and New Year paintings are also essential Chinese New Year decorations. The Fu character in Chinese means ‘blessing’ and ‘good fortune’ so that this character appears frequently in the New Year. Interestingly, people always choose to paste it upside down on the door or window because the inversion in Chinese called “dao” has the same pronunciation with the ‘coming’ in Chinese. An inverted Fu character means the good fortune is coming. The images of the New Year Paintings are full of variety including auspicious legendary figures and some gods from mythology. The Door God and the God of Wealth are the most popular paintings since Chinese people think the former one can keep the house safe and the latter can help making money.


3. Chinese Red Lanterns

red lanternsAs a traditional folk handicraft, the Chinese red lantern now has been one of the symbols of Chinese culture and it’s also a necessary decoration in various festivals, especially in the Chinese New Year, Lantern Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival. The red lanterns will be hung in streets, shops, parks, and private households across the country as the New Year is coming. In Chinese people’s view, red lanterns symbolize family reunion, prosperity, happiness and vitality. On New Year’s Eve, a red lantern hanging in front of the door lights not only the dark night but also the hope of the coming year.

Read more about Chinese lanterns.


4. Chinese Knots

Chinese KnotChinese knot is a handicraft with a long history. In ancient times, the knots were used for simple recording and then they gradually became accessories and decorations. Until now, they are mostly used as interior decorations and gifts to friends or relatives. It is also one of the most popular Chinese New Year decorations. The Chinese knot is generally knotted from a single rope and several single knots can be grouped into a complicated one. A variety of shapes of knots have different meanings and their names are always concerned with ‘safety’ and ‘auspiciousness’. So people love to use it to decorate rooms during the Chinese New Year for its good meaning and beautiful design.


5. Paper Cuttings

Paper-cut Window DecorationAnother traditional Chinese New Year decoration is the paper cuttings and it’s a folk art to cut paper with scissors or cutting knife. The paper cuttings are usually pasted on the windows, doors or walls and they represent peoples’ good wishes to future life. The designs of paper cuttings are mostly the zodiac image of the New Year and some lucky characters ‘Fu’, ‘Lu’, ‘Shou’ and ‘Xi’, which respectively mean luck, wealth, longevity and happiness. Besides that, some auspicious plants and interesting legendary stories can also become a part of the New Year paper cuttings’ themes.

Read more about Paper-Cut.


5 Modern Decorations for Chinese New Year


1. Auspicious Green Plants – Lucky Bamboo, Money Tree and Kumquat Tree

Lucky BambooGreen plants are one of the must-buy home decorations for Chinese New Year nowadays and some popular plants have been given  nick names such as the Lucky Bamboos, Money Trees and Coin Trees. Just as the names imply, the three plants all symbolize the wealth and good fortune.

Also, the kumquat trees with rich fruits mean good luck and money and they are especially popular in the southern areas of China.


2. Beautiful Flowers – Butterfly Orchid, Peach Flower

Butterfly OrchidBeautiful flowers can be one of the best New Year decorations and the most popular flowers in this period are also mostly about good omen and fortune. The butterfly orchid, which blooms with grace and elegance exactly during Chinese New Year, is the first choice for people to decorate rooms. The pink peach blossoms have an effect of exorcising evil spirits and symbolize prosperity and romance. The pussy willow is also called the silver willow, the rising buds of which symbolize a rising fortune in career. The Chinese nick name of guzmania conifer has a meaning of “Lucky Strike”. Its red flower has been regarded as a lucky omen and it’s also a good plant to add festivity since the red is the theme color of Chinese New Year.


3. Red Fabric Decorations

Red Fabric DecorationsRecent years, the red fabric has become more and more common during Chinese New Year. People change the window curtains, beddings, sofa cushions and table cloths into red colors to create a happy environment.

Surely it is more appropriate to change the color of one or two things and match with other decorations to create a kind of warm, harmonious and jubilant household atmosphere and take on a complete new look of the house.


4. Zodiac Animal Toys

Zodiac Animal ToysAs the Chinese New Year is coming, the zodiac of the New Year is changing accordingly. There are 12 zodiac signs including Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. It is on the basis of a twelve-year cycle and each year has its own animal sign.

Now, the zodiac sign has become a mascot and the families with children prefer to purchase some cute zodiac animal toys.

Read more about Chinese zodiac.


5. Colored Lights

Colored LightsColored lights are usually hung on the streets or shopping malls to heighten the atmosphere of the festival. Gradually it has become a part of the New Year decorations for common people.

The little lights with a variety of colors and different shapes have a pretty good effect of decorating. On New Year’s Eve, turn on the illuminations and enjoy a family reunion dinner with families under the lights, which is one of the most memorable moments of a year.

- Last updated on Apr. 17, 2019 -
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