Chinese New Year… the significance of red

Karen Haller 01
Karen Haller

It's Chinese New Year and red is all around us! Also known as the Spring Festival, it's one of the largest celebratory events for the Chinese community. Red (紅 hóng) is not only the cultural colour of the Chinese people, it's also their primary celebratory colour.

In China, red culturally relates to fire and energy, and has come to symbolise vitality, celebration, good fortune, good luck and prosperity.

During Chinese Lunar New Year, you'll see gifts given in small, red envelopes called 'hong bao' and Chinese homes are decorated with bright red banners to bring good luck.

What is colour symbolism (colour in culture)?
Colours are understood differently in different cultures because of the meaning those colours have within that culture. Sometimes these have gained symbolic significance over many generations, if not hundreds of years. Often the original reason may no longer be known, slipping into folklore.

Giving meaning or association to a colour is our human way of seeking meaning within our environment, usually formed out of religious beliefs, from royalty or a society belief.

Colour symbolism is often confused with colour psychology, however they are two entirely different things.

Chinatown in London will be a sea of red this weekend and no doubt for the week ahead. I'm hoping to pop by when I'm in town this week.


What do you associate with the colour red? Does it have any cultural significance for you or for your clients or target market?


Wishing you a prosperous 2024!

Originally written February 2, 2014. Updated 2024.

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