Chinese New Year in Shanghai

Informant Data:

The informant is an 18-year old student who was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1996. He moved from Canada to Shanghai, China when he was in middle school. Both his father and mother have Chinese ancestry. He is a freshman at the University of Southern California and thus currently resides in Los Angeles, California.


Contextual Data:

My informant was Skyping with his family on Chinese New Year, which in 2015 happened to be in mid-February. Once he finished Skyping with his family, I asked him if he could tell me a little bit about Chinese New Years and specifically how he celebrated Chinese New Year in Shanghai. I asked if I could record his response and he agreed.

When asked what he liked most about the traditions he does on Chinese New Year, he said his favorite part of it was definitely lighting the fireworks at midnight and watching them with his family as they exploded in the sky above.



(Audio recording transcribed)

“So what we do is we go and buy a ton of fireworks early on in the week. It’s like we’re celebrating the arrival of spring. So then on the day before Chinese New Year,  my whole family including my extended family, get together usually at my family’s house. And all the kids, my cousins…they get these little red envelopes which I guess symbolize good luck. And then we all have dinner, which includes dumplings, which I guess are eaten for good luck too. And then, once it gets to midnight, we always light a bunch of these fireworks and set them off right in the backyard.”



I can note there’s an interesting emphasis on good luck in the Chinese New Year customs in Shanghai, so it seems that good luck is an important belief in that society. There also seems to be an importance in celebrating with fireworks every year, which might speak to the importance of Chinese New Year as a holiday in that society, since at least to the informant, one usually celebrates Chinese New Year with big festivities like firing off many fireworks at midnight at one’s home with one’s entire family.