8 Joyful Ideas for How to Celebrate Lunar New Year at Work

Lunar New Year is just around the corner! While you might still be packing up the last mistletoe from Christmas decorations, it is time to start thinking about spreading the Lunar New Year cheer around the office! If you’re in need of some inspiration, here are eight auspicious and joyful ideas on how to celebrate Lunar New Year at work.

Access 12 months of employee engagement activities and ideas, download our HR Calendar 2024 for inspiration!

What is the Lunar New Year?

Lunar New Year is a festive season celebrated by billions of people primarily across East and Southeast Asia, marking the beginning of a new year on the lunar calendar. It’s a joyous 15-day celebration filled with traditions, family reunion, and welcoming new beginnings!

In the vibrant tapestry of Chinese culture, the 12-year cycle of the Chinese Zodiac reigns supreme. Each year, the spirit of an animal reigns throughout the entire year and 2024 marks the Year of The Dragon, symbolizing power, nobility, honor, and luck in Chinese culture. This ancient system weaves traditions, legends and even a dash of fortune-telling into a fascinating way to understand ourselves and those around us. The question of how to celebrate Lunar New Year at work, is one that will help you honor the Chinese culture and create memorable moments for your team.

Why Should You Celebrate the Lunar New Year in the Workplace?

how to celebrate Lunar New Year at work

Celebrating Lunar New Year in the workplace is a fantastic way to foster diversity, inclusion and team spirit, enriching your company culture in many ways. Before diving into how to celebrate Lunar New Year at work, let’s take a look at the various ways incorporating festivities can boost your company culture.

Embrace cultural diversity and build bridges

Acknowledging and appreciating the cultural heritage of employees who celebrate Lunar New Year demonstrates respect and inclusivity, making everyone on the team feel valued and welcomed. Aside from that, educating the team on traditions and significance through presentations and decorations can spark curiosity and break down cultural barriers within the workplace.

Boost team spirit and morale

Lunar New Year is a festive occasion filled with joy, optimism and fresh beginnings. Celebrating it at work can translate into a positive and energetic atmosphere, boosting morale and fostering a sense of camaraderie. Furthermore, Lunar New Year team-building activities can be a fun and engaging way to break down silos, encourage collaboration and build stronger relationships  between team members, ultimately enhancing employee engagement.

Enhance employer branding and attract talent

Showcasing your company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion through Lunar New Year celebrations can send a powerful message to potential employees. This can attract a wider talent pool and help your company stand out as an employer of choice!

Last but not least, positive word-of-mouth from employees who feel valued and appreciated for their cultural heritage can go a long way in attracting top talents and building a strong employer brand.

Joyful Ideas for How to Celebrate Lunar New Year at Work

Now that we’ve covered the ‘why’, let’s dive into exactly how to celebrate Lunar New Year at work for both in-person and remote teams.

For Office Teams

Spring cleaning and decorating the office

Spring cleaning for Lunar New Year in the workplace is one of the best ways to usher in good luck, prosperity and fresh beginnings along the new year. This is an opportunity to boost team spirit, celebrate diversity, and create a vibrant, welcoming environment.

With a clean, fresh slate, it’s time for decorations! The quickest and easiest way to kickstart the festive atmosphere is by transforming your workspace with vibrant red lanterns, paper cuttings, auspicious symbols and photos representing different zodiac animals.

Omni Tip for how to celebrate Lunar New Year at work:
Get the whole team involved by hosting a red envelope (Hong Bao) origami competition and hang the finished products around the office for a unique and personalized festive feel.

Lunar New Year team luncheon

how to celebrate Lunar New Year at work

As the saying goes, ‘food brings people together’, teams that dine together tend to forge stronger bonds, and gathering around cuisine is a great hack for how to celebrate Lunar New Year at work. Encourage team members to bring dishes from their cultural backgrounds related to Lunar New Year traditions. This is a delicious way to learn about different cultures and share a meal together.

If your workspace offers a kitchen setup, take it a step further and host a dumpling making session. In Chinese culture, dumplings symbolize wealth and prosperity as they resemble the Chinese ingots used as a form of currency during the Ming dynasty. An alternative option for how to celebrate Lunar New Year at work with food is an in-person or virtual cooking class, and have an expert guide you through the tedious step of dumpling folding as a team-building activity!

Another must-have on the menu is the Yee Sang which comprises raw fish strips (traditionally salmon or tuna) and shredded vegetables, along with a variety of sauces and condiments. Gather the team around and toss the salad together, a practice known as Prosperity Toss. The aim is to toss higher each time while wishing each other good fortune of the year. It is believed that the blessings are woven into the salad with each toss, before being enjoyed by all.

Finally, end the Lunar New Year team luncheon with fortune cookies! Crack open fortune cookies together and discuss the meaning of your messages. Feel free to insert some cheeky liners for a fun and lighthearted moment together.

Exchange lucky red envelopes

Another joyful tip for how to celebrate Lunar New Year at work is by exchanging lucky red envelopes.

A red envelope (Hong Bao) is a gift of money inserted into an ornate red pocket of paper, which is given during important occasions such as Lunar New Year, birthdays, and weddings as a way to send good wishes. The color red symbolizes energy, happiness, and good luck in Chinese culture.

Exchanging red envelopes within the team can serve as an excellent means to promote cultural understanding and inclusion. It not only enhances team spirit but also spreads good luck and well wishes. However, be mindful of diverse cultural backgrounds, ensuring that everyone feels included without any sense of obligation. Additionally, establishing a fixed or maximum amount for the contents of the envelopes is important to prevent unintended discomfort arising from comparisons. Take into account logistical challenges and the potential for unequal participation during the exchange as well.

Omni Tip for how to celebrate Lunar New Year at work:
Swap out money for compliments or written well wishes inside your Hong Bao. Educate the team on the tradition but take a work-friendly approach by replacing the monetary exchange.

Lunar New Year Trivia

Next up on how to celebrate Lunar New Year at work is hosting Lunar New Year trivia. This is also a great opportunity to share interesting facts, stories and customs associated with Lunar New Year.

To make things easier, consider platforms like kahoot, Mentimeter and Quizlet when creating and hosting your trivia as it allows for automatic score calculations and theme customizations to fit the theme.

Lion/Dragon Dance performance

Another great idea for how to celebrate Lunar New Year at work is to hire a Lion or Dragon Dance to perform at the office building.

The historical background of the Lion Dance can be traced back to the Han Dynasty. According to the legend, Nian was terrorizing villagers for years until one day, a lion came and defeated Nian, chasing him away. Since then, villagers would dress up as a lion to scare Nian away. Thus, the Lion Dance was born.

Throughout the years, this performing art has evolved to have its own unique twist all over Southeast Asia. In Chinese culture, the lion symbolizes power, wisdom and superiority. People perform lion dances at Chinese festivals or big occasions as a way to bring good fortune and chase away evil spirits. The Lion Dance is considered one of the most important traditions in celebrating Lunar New Year. It is performed to bring prosperity and good luck for the upcoming year. Not only that, the Lion Dance is also a way to create a festive atmosphere and bring happiness.

Similarly, the Dragon Dance is also an important part of the Lunar New Year celebrations. From the start of Lunar New Year to the last day, known as the Lantern Festival, dragon dances can be seen in many places around the world. They are believed to be a way to scare away evil spirits and bring about good luck to the people. It is considered lucky if one is touched by the dragon during the dance!

For Remote Teams

As remote work becomes more prevalent, maintaining employee engagement during festive seasons can pose a challenge. Nevertheless, here are three great suggestions on how to celebrate Lunar New Year at work, even when the team is miles apart.

Learn more: Navigating the Digital Divide: Enhancing Remote Team Communication

Global Lunar New Year playlist 

For remote teams scattered around the globe, celebrating Lunar New Year can feel like a fragmented experience. With different time zones, cultural variations, and individual preferences, it can be challenging to navigate how to celebrate Lunar New Year at work in a way that fosters a sense of shared joy and connection.

According to the Association for Psychological Science, the right music can bring teams together. This is where a global Lunar New Year playlist comes in, weaving a harmonious thread of festive music to engage and unite your remote team during this festive season.

Create a playlist that celebrates the rich tapestry of cultures that observe Lunar New Year. Be sure to include traditional tunes from the different countries and cultures of your team, offering a multicultural musical experience.

Once the playlist is curated, schedule virtual jam sessions during work hours or create a collaborative playlist platform where team members can contribute their own picks and share their own favorites with their colleagues. This interactive approach fosters connection while celebrating individual preferences.

Zoom costume contest

Another cheeky and fun idea for how to celebrate Lunar New Year at work while being remote is by hosting a Zoom costume contest.

A Lunar New Year-themed Zoom costume contest ignites imagination and encourages everyone to embrace their inner fashionista. Participants can dress up as zodiac animals, embody auspicious Lunar New Year symbols, or even showcase their cultural attires. This lighthearted competition breaks the ice, sparks laughter, and is sure to create a joyful atmosphere that lasts! Be sure your team understands the nuances of cultural appreciation vs appropriation, to ensure this activity remains respectful.

Add a layer of excitement with a virtual awards ceremony. Come up with a few categories such as ‘Most Creative’ or ‘Most Colorful’ and crown the winners after a team vote. Prizes can be virtual like gift cards or bonus coffee credits, or even a fun team lunch for your next meet in person.

Omni Tip for how to celebrate Lunar New Year at work:
Encourage your team to explore their creative side by using props, make their own costumes or even create team-themed costumes! This adds a personal touch and injects even more fun into the occasion.

Lunar New Year movie watch party 

Last on our list on how to celebrate Lunar New Year at work is to host a Lunar New Year movie watch party.

Choose a Lunar New Year- themed movie to watch together virtually. This could be a heartwarming family comedy such as “Over the Moon”, a thrilling martial arts film like “Ip Man”, or even classics including “Kung Fu Hustle” and “Shaolin Soccer”. Make it interactive by setting up live chat rooms where everyone can share their thoughts, reactions and laughter throughout the film. This creates a sense of shared experience and fosters real-time connections.

Take the movie watch party to the next level by hosting a virtual snack potluck. Encourage the team to bring their favorite Lunar New Year treats, like dumplings, spring rolls or sweet rice cakes, to share virtually and enjoy the diverse flavors together! Alternatively, consider organizing a fun trivia session related to Lunar New Year traditions, symbolism or even the movie itself. This encourages learning and cultural exchange, making the experience more enriching and memorable.

Omni Tip for how to celebrate Lunar New Year at work:
Choose a movie with subtitles or dubs in different languages to cater to the diverse backgrounds of your team and make the experience an inclusive one for everyone!

Deepen Employee Engagement With HR Tools

Dive into your Lunar New Year festivities with these eight auspicious and joyous celebration ideas for how to celebrate Lunar New Year at work.

Stay on top of every upcoming festive celebration with Omni’s customizable dashboard which allows your teams to set and manage calendars pre-loaded with country or region specific holidays and timezones. Book a demo with our team to learn more about how Omni can support your international workforce.

Want more employee engagement ideas for the year? Download our HR Calendar 2024 for inspiration

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