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During the holiday season, I want to spend as much time on the couch watching movies as possible. I’ve worked hard the rest of the year to be a vegetable during the wintertime.

Like many, I have my go-to Christmas/New Year-themed movies. But what about the Lunar New Year? 

Since I moved to Asia, I found that the Western idea of New Year isn’t really celebrated. The big guns are brought out for the Lunar New Year. 

For this Year of the Tiger, I wanted to make sure I had some movies ready to go for my celebration. Here are my picks for the best Lunar New Year movie scenes!

  1. 1 Folklife Realistic Fiction

    "The Spring Festival" (1991)

    Poster for "The Spring Festival"

    “The Spring Festival" tells the story of a family reunion for the Lunar New Year. 

    One by one, the sons and daughters of the Cheng family return from their year of hard work. Familial drama ensues, further tangled up by societal pressures and status. 

    This classic movie shows rural life during China’s reformation period. It is a glimpse at a not-so-long-ago historical slice of life in China.

    The cast of "The Spring Festival"

    This is a classic celebration of the Lunar New Year. 

    Ringing in the New Year is all about your family and blood relatives. It is about reconnecting with the people who brought you into this world. 

    It is comforting to see how far back this tradition stems from Chinese history. In this movie, family, even with its drama, always comes first in celebrations. 

    You can watch the full movie here!

  2. 2 Documentary

    "A Bite of China: Celebrating the Chinese New Year" (2016)

    This Chinese documentary takes an in-depth look at the process of making and the importance of food during Lunar New Year celebrations. It takes a brief look at the food diversity throughout all of China’s vast landscapes. 

    There are over 60 traditional foods that are associated with New Year. This documentary gives us a sampling of them all.

    Two people preparing for Lunar New Year in "A Bite of China"

    One of my favorite things about a holiday celebration is the preparation. 

    I chose this documentary for the market shopping scenes.  Families go to giant open markets to collect all the ingredients to bring home for their personal celebrations. These moments of shared preparation are wonderful. 

    In this movie, Lunar New Year is celebrated as a familial tradition centering around food and community. You can watch the full movie here!

  3. 3 Modern Chinese Movies

    "Us and Them" (2018)

    This one isn't for the whole family, just for adults. 

    This enthralling romance takes place in Beijing as two ex lovers are stranded in the city together for the New Year. With the start of a new rotation around the sun, these two give their love another shot. 

    This is for the romantics at heart who yearn for a heart-felt holiday season. The script was based on the short story “Home for Chinese New Year” by Jie Wei.

    The main characters of "Us and Them"

    I chose this movie because during their Chinese New Year celebration, the main characters take their romance to the next steamy level. In this scene, Lunar New Year is represented as a budding romance, a chance for something new to blossom with the coming year.

    You can watch "Us and Them" on Netflix!

  4. 4 Modern Chinese-American Movies

    "Tigertail" (2020)

    “Tigertail” is the newest film on my list. It is a sweet drama about Pin-Jui and his generation’s immigrant story from Taiwan.

    Angela, the daughter of Pin-Jui, hosts a Chinese New Year party in one of the final scenes of the movie. Without spoiling too much, it serves as a great finale to Pin-Jui’s life story.

    It shows how traditions and family life stories are passed down from generation to generation, just as Lunar New Year traditions are passed down. It is a celebration of the past while ringing in the hope for the future.

    This New Year’s scene demonstrates the life of a Chinese immigrant. Angela celebrates her American life, surrounded by her family and friends. But she is also commemorating her father’s immigration and his life in Taiwan.

    You can watch "Tigertail" on Netflix!

    Characters in "Tigertail"

For other movie suggestions, check out these links: 1, 2, 3!

I loved seeing all these different representations of the Lunar New Year holiday. 

As always, representation is the most important thing media can do for us. By seeing all of these Chinese people celebrate the coming of their New Year in different ways, it validates all forms of celebration and welcoming of the new year. 

From the writers at Chinosity, we wish you a wonderful start to your new year. Happy Year of the Tiger! 


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Emma Federer

Emma Federer is a wacky screenwriter that uses her voice to celebrate of all things Asian: from C-pop to female stand-ups to the heart-warming experiences of queer Asian Americans.
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