Celebrating Chinese New Year In Colombo.

Happy Chinese New Year to everyone from all of us here at YAMU. New Year’s Eve on Feb 18th is the big event, followed by lesser celebrations till March 5th. If you’d like to join in, Colombo’s many Chinese restaurants (and hotels) will be hosting dinners starting on New Year’s Eve and proceeding throughout.

We also recommend checking out the CCTV New Year’s Gala on Dialog TV or at a Chinese restaurant. It’s probably the most watched TV program ever (read more in the Traditions section).

We’ve marked places that should be showing the Gala with this video icon

Places To Eat

Chinese restaurants are obviously a good place to celebrate the Chinese New Year (they’re usually full of Chinese people), but the five star hotels also go all-out and sometimes offer you a bit more guidance via set menus.


Restaurants

Min Han

This cheap but tasty spot on Deanstone Place has a barebones ambience (and prices) but their dumplings and food are delicious and they’ll definitely be showing the CCTV Gala on satellite. (112576533)

998

998 should be buzzing on the New Year. They have room for 200 people, a TV definitely tuned to the gala and authentic Chinese food (and endless green tea). (772585455)

Fortune Boat

Fortune Boat is a beautiful location with authentic, tasty food. We don’t think they’ll have a TV though. (114368866)

Moon River

We’ve honestly had middling experiences with Moon River food but it’s definitely popular with Chinese people (especially tour groups) and they definitely have Chinese TV. (112596882)

Sunlight Garden

Sunlight Garden does really tasty and authentic Chinese food, and we’ve especially enjoyed their dumplings. Think there’s a TV in there, but not sure.(114342666)

Tang Dynasty

Tang Dynasty on Dickman’s Rd is a higher end Chinese place. What sets Tang apart is that it’s new and they’ve spent on ambience. They have private rooms upstairs and it’s a good place for entertaining. (113288800)

Tsing Tao

Tsing Tao does excellent Chinese food in a beautiful location at the Racecourse. It’s expensive, but we generally haven’t been disappointed there. (112698989)

Loon Tao

Being on the beach, Loon Tao is one of the few places that will probably have fireworks. Loon Tao does reliable beachside Chinese on the Mount Lavinia beach. (112722723)


Hotels

Most of the five-star hotels have Chinese chefs and pay a lot of attention to holidays like this. The food is good and they hopefully will make an experience out of it. Don’t think they’re showing the gala, though.

Yue Chuan (Kingsbury)

Yue Chuan is the Kingsbury’s Chinese restaurant, well appointed and run by a Chinese chef. They’ll definitely pull out the stops – so look out for tasty dumplings, maybe even Chinese New Year cake. It’s also a nice ambience to dine in. (771087720)

Golden Dragon (Taj)

This Taj property is completely redone, and quite well. They have three Chinese chefs one that does just dim/sum, dumplings, so that side should be good. It’s also a beautiful space and auspicious in terms of color and decorations (gold, dragons). (115446622)

Long Feng (Cinnamon Lakeside)

Long Feng Chef Yang is offering set menus for lunch (Rs. 3,400) and dinner (Rs. 3,750) covering a range of styles and preparations (Sichuan fried prawn, tofu dumplings, fried lamb, etc). Lakeside is also playing traditional music and will be decorated for the occasion. (112491949)

Mount Lavinia Hotel

Chef Zhiquang Qui is preparing a special Chinese buffet for the New Year for Rs. 2,900 per person. There’s a beautiful view and he’s quite an experienced chef. (112711711, ext 430)


Chinese New Year is a lot like the Sinhala/Tamil New Year in that it runs over a long time (two weeks) and involves cleaning up all the mess of the past year and starting over. Chinese traditions, however, are very different.

For example, according to their traditional calendar, everyone has a ‘birthday’ on the seventh day of the New Year (Feb 25). Even dogs have a shared birthday, on the 2nd day (Feb 20). Beyond that, Chinese people celebrations involve a lot of food, like everyone really.

One awesome tradition we don’t have is the CCTV New Year’s Gala. This TV program is watched be an estimated 700 million people across the world. This year it includes singing, dancing martial arts, Chinese traditional fashion shows and much more.

Days Of The Chinese New Year

Days And Activities
Day Meaning Activities
-1

La month – the days preceding New Years
  • Cleaning the house
  • Painting doors and windows red
  • Buying new clothes
  • Getting haircuts
  • Paying off debts
0 (Feb 18)

New Years Eve
  • Prayer of thanksgiving
  • Reunion dinner (usually meat, sometimes veg)
  • Watching CCTV’s New Year’s Gala (4 hours before)
  • Eating dumplings around midnight
  • Making New Year cake
  • Lighting fire crackers
  • Sealing the doors until morning
1 (Feb 19)

New Year
  • Lighting fireworks
  • Some people abstain from meat
  • Visiting parents
  • Watching lion dancers
  • Cash gifts to kids and employees
  • NOT cooking, cleaning, etc
2 (Feb 20)

Beginning Of The Year
  • Married daughters visiting their parents
  • Giving charity
  • Every dog’s birthday
3 (Feb 21)

Red Mouth
  • Burning paper offerings
  • NOT having guests or visiting
4 (Feb 22)

Back to business
  • Corporate Spring Dinners
  • Some people return to work
5 (Feb 23)

God of wealth’s birthday
  • Eating dumplings
  • Lighting firecrackers
6 (Feb 24)
7 (Feb 25)

Renri
  • Every person’s birthday
  • Raw fish salad eaten in Southeast Asia
8 (Feb 26)

Eve of the Jade Emperor’s birthday
  • Family or corporate dinner
  • Incense and offerings 
  • More return to work
9 (Feb 27) Jade Emperor’s birthday
  • Offering of sugarcane (Hokkien people)
10 (Feb 28) Jade Emperor’s Party
11 (Mar 1)
12 (Mar 2)
13 (Mar 3)

God of war’s day
  • Eating vegetarian food
14 (Mar 4)
15 (Mar 5)

Lantern festival
  • Eating rice dumplings (tangyuan)
  • Candles lit outside homes
  • Families walk around carrying lanterns
  • Day for singles (like Valentine’s)

Conclusion

So those are a few suggestions on how to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Colombo this year. Sri Lankans have been friends with Chinese people for thousands of years and in recent years we’ve seen more cultural, commercial and tourist exchange than ever before. The New Year is a nice chance to learn more about China and, of course, to eat tasty Chinese food. We hope you enjoy it.

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