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How to Decorate for Chinese New Year in Traditional Way

chinese new year decoration

As you may have already noticed that during the spring festival season, there are various red colored decorations are on popular sale each year.

But how do you actually do with those decorations and where to put them in your house as the Chinese do it rightly? What is the special meaning of each decoration? Here in this article we will offer you an ultimate guide for Chinese New Year traditional decorations.

First, as with any festival decoration, thoroughly cleaning for the house is a must do before any decoration goes on.

What you should get for Chinese New Year decoration shopping?

What you should get for Chinese new year decoration shopping are: spring festival couplets, diamond-shaped red couplets, door gods couplets, paper cutting, red lanterns, new year paintings, lucky zodiac animals of the year, fresh lucky red flowers for the house, some region in china people will get Kumquat Trees for Wealth and Good Luck, among all of them the first five are the most important elements and indispensible. Most of the decoration materials are made red which is to be believed that red color had driven away the Nian monster in ancient time and brought good luck for people.

Spring Festival Couplets --春联

You can also call it New Year couplets or chun lian in Chinese. They are red colored strips usually with black or golden Calligraphy Chinese characters written on them. Red colored dominated means luck and gold characters show wealth. A suite of spring festival couplets should have two longer strips for both side of the doorway, a shorter strip for door head and a diamond-shaped couplet which should be pasted in the middle on the door.

Most of the spring festival suites are now also have 6-8 red envelopes and two paper cuttings in the package for making a better sale.

spring couplets

How to paste the Spring Festival Couplets?

The way couplets get written are restrictively according to the tradition Chinese poem rhythm. For example, if there is earth appears in the right strip, then there should be sky in the left strip; if there is health on the right strip, then there must have happiness on the left strip.

And corespondantly the two longer strips are divided as shang lian(上联 first strip\ right strip) for right side of the door and xia lian(下联 second strip \left strip)for the left side of doorway.

So which is right strip couplet and which is the left?

Funny thing is that this is a question bothering modern Chinese as well for not many people know well enough about the poem rhythms. Well, the smart business guys will always find way to make a sale. They would have already marked the strips for right\left in the suite package, so it won’t be a problem.

If you don t know any Chinese and have difficult to locate the strip mark, well, as long as they are big fortune and good luck, it doesn’t matter whether they are on the right or left, does it? Just try your best not to paste them up-side down.

Diamond-shaped Fu Characters--福字

Diamond-shaped fu characters, or fú zi (福字) in Chinese. It means happiness and wealth. They should be included in the spring festival couplets package as it mentioned above, but you can always get some better designed ones separately. This is the one that you may have heard of should be pasted up-side down.

Why fu character has to be up-side down?

In Chinese, up-side down 倒 dào is pronounced similar to the word 到 dào which means arrive, therefore, do the happiness up-side down symbolises the happiness arrives.

How to make sure fu character is up-side down as a foreigner who doesn’t know much Chinese?

But as a foreigner you may have difficult to figure out which way is the up-side down. Well, just paste it like it shows in the picture below, make sure the table crossing shaped section of the character is at the up-left corner, then that means it is up-side down now.

upside down fu character

Door Dods--门神

People used to carve full armed heroes’ images on woodblocks to hang on their doors for protection in ancient China. Today, door gods are printed on red papers with much fancier design. When pasting the door gods, make sure that the two gods are facing each other like the picture shows below.

door gods in china

Spring Festival Paper Cutting --窗花

Paper cutting are intricately red paper designed from zodiac animals or wealth Chinese characters. The paper cuttings should be set on walls or mirror to highlight the color. Some of the paper cutting artists’ work could be an amazing intricacy art piece. The most common ones are designed out of the Chinese character of chūn 春——spring, cái 财——wealth, fú 福——luck.

chinese spring festival paper cuttings

Red Lanterns --红灯笼

Get a few pairs of red lanterns to hang above your door or balcony is believed could drive away bad luck and evil sprites off your house. This is a very important element for the Chinese New Year decoration and those lanterns should keep hanging till the lantern festival ends.  

New Year Paintings --年画

New Year paintings on the walls are good greetings of the New Year. Images are always auspicious animals or great fengshui landscape in order to usher in good fortune in the house for the New Year.

Fresh Flowers --鲜花

Getting fresh flowers for decorating the house is always a happy thing to do. Especially in Guangdong province, as flower in Cantonese is pronounced similar to the word fortune. So this tradition is most popular across Guangdong regions. And of course red flowers are always the most popular during Chinese New Year time.