Chinese Spring Festival (Chinese New Year)

Contents [Show]

    Spring Festival (Chinese New Year)

    happy spring festivalLike Christmas in the West, the Spring Festival (also known as the Chinese New Year) is regarded by the Chinese people as the most important and grandest traditional festival. It has a history of more than 4,000 years. Most people living away from home will try their best to come back for a family reunion making it the busiest time for transportation systems in China. The Spring Festival holiday is full of rich and colorful activities and Chinese people from different regions and of different ethnic groups have different customs to celebrate it. Nowadays, more and more families would like to go out for traveling to celebrate the festival.


    Popular Greetings:
    新年快乐-- pinyin: Xīnniánkuàilè (meaning: Happy new year)
    过年好-- pinyin: Guònián Hǎo (meaning: Happy new year)
    恭喜发财-- pinyin: Gōngxǐfācái (meaning: Congratulations and be prosperous)
    萬事如意-- pinyin: Wànshìrúyì (meaning: May all your wishes be fulfilled)

    Date and Holiday Durations:

    Chinese Spring Festival is held on the first day of each year of the Chinese lunar calendar (In folk custom, it starts from the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month) and lasts to the 15th day of the first lunar month (Lantern Festival) in the following year. As the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, the Chinese New Year is also called the ‘the Lunar Chinese New Year’.

    2018 Chinese New Year falls on February 16, 2018 and it's the year of Dog. You can check schedule of the Spring Festival in recent years from the following table:

    Year Date Holiday Durations (Mainland China) Chinese Zodiac Animal
    2014 January 31 January 31 - February 6 Horse
    2015 February 19 February 19 - 25 Sheep
    2016 February 8 February 7 - 13 Monkey
    2017 January 28 January 27 - February 2 Rooster
    2018 February 16 February 15 - 21 Dog
    2019 February 5 February 4 - 10 Pig
    2020 January 25 January 24 - 30 Rat
    2021 February 12 February 11 - 17 Ox
    Hong Kong will have three days off from the first day of the Chinese lunar New Year.

    Traditions of Spring Festival:

    From the 23rd day of the previous lunar month, every family does a thorough house cleaning and purchases necessities for the festival, including fish, meat, chicken, rice, flour, all kinds of nuts, candies and fruits, etc. Also, new clothes are bought for the New Year. Many Chinese families decorate the house into a festival atmosphere. The Chinese character 'Fu' (with the meaning of blessing and happiness) is pasted on the front door and delicate Chinese paper-cut on windows. Red posters with poetic verses are pasted at the house gate and pictures on the wall.
    • character 'Fu' backward
    • People enjoy the family reunion feast
    • Paper-cut
    On Spring Festival Eve, no matter where he is, each member will try his best to come back to enjoy the family reunion feast (Nian Ye Fan). The dinner is bigger and more sumptuous than usual. In north China, Jiaozi (dumpling) is indispensable and Niangao (a kind of cake made of glutinous rice flour) in the south is essential for the dinner. After dinner, all family members watch TV (Spring Festival evening party broadcast) and chat together. Fireworks and firecrackers are also set continuously, among which the midnight blasts are the most thunderous.
    On the first day of Spring Festival, people dressing up to visit relatives and friends to extend New Year's greetings. Children often receive red packets with ‘luck’ money from parents, relatives and seniors. During the following days, people will visit their distant relatives. The festival is also highlighted with colorful activities including temple fairs, lion and dragon dancing, beating drums and striking gongs, etc. The Chinese Spring Festival comes to an end when the Lantern Festival (on the fifteenth day of the Chinese New Year) is finished.

    Some Important Customs and Activities of Spring Festival:

    Various customs and activities are handed down by Chinese people such as pasting Spring Festival scrolls, the character 'Fu', paper-cuts pictures, displaying firecrackers and fireworks, paying New Year visits, and eating dumplings.
    Pasting Spring Festival Scrolls and the Character 'Fu' 1. Pasting Spring Festival Scrolls and the Character 'Fu'
    A few days before the festival, people paste red scrolls with complementary poetic couplets with one line on each side of the gate to add festive atmosphere. The customs was originated from the Song Dynasty (960 -1279). Good wishes are expressed through the couplets.
    'Fu' in Chinese means 'Good Luck' or 'Happiness'. It is popular for Chinese people to paste the Chinese Character 'Fu' on the center of the front door. Nowadays, people like to paste it backward, with the meaning of 'Fu' has come.

    2. Setting Firecrackers and Fireworks
    Burning fireworks and setting firecrackers is the most typical custom for the Spring Festival. People think the spluttering sound could help drive away evil spirits. However, because of security, noise and pollution factors, the use of firecrackers is banned in some areas of the cities.

    3. Paying New Year Visits
    On the first day of the Spring Festival, Chinese people usually visit friends to express good wishes for the coming year to each other. People greet one another with 'Happy New Year' when meeting. Nowadays, some greetings are usually sent by telephone or through internet instead of going out. The children can receive a lot of money wrapped in red paper from the older generation after greeting them. Dumplings (Jiaozi)
    4. Eating Dumplings (Jiaozi)
    Made with flours and stuffed with different fillings, dumplings (Jiaozi) is an indispensible food eaten on New Year's Eve and the first day of the New Year. Originated in Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 AD) and popular in Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911 AD), eating dumplings means wealth in the coming year. Some people wrap coins, candy, peanuts, or chestnutsin dumplings. People who eat one will be blessed with different wishes, such as a coin for wealth, candy for sweet life, peanuts for health and longevity, and chestnuts for vigor.

    Spring Festival Taboos:

    With good wishes cherished, people usually avoid unlucky behaviors during Spring Festival. Inauspicious words like bad, dead, kill, ill, poor, etc. are not welcome because people think bad things may happen if they say these words, and the whole year will be terrible. In addition, one should be careful when holding plates, cups and other fragile items. Sweeping the floor is strongly discouraged. In addition, taking medicine is forbidden. Once eaten, the following year will be full of illness. Hair cutting should be avoided until the second day of the second lunar month.

    Special Notice:

    From the Spring Festival Eve to the seventh day of the first Chinese lunar month, in China, government offices, companies, small shops are closed. Banks open from the fourth day of the Chinese lunar New Year. Super markets and shopping malls are usually on business during the festivals. Public transport is also available.

    More Traditional Chinese Festivals:

    Chinese Spring Festival Eve       Laba Festival      Lantern Festival      Dragon Heads-raising Day       Qingming Festival      Ghost Festival      Mid-Autumn Festival       Double Seventh Festival       Dragon Boat Festival        The Double Ninth Festival      Winter Solstice

    Lastest Questions and Answers

    Formula for calculate every year Chinese new year day (1 Reply ) Asked by Kimsan hok | 12/20/2017 7:22:12 AM

    Chinese New year (1 Reply ) Asked by Limsong | 7/19/2017 12:53:04 PM

    Feng Shui number vs 2017 Chinese New Year (2 Replies ) Asked by Lydia | 1/20/2017 12:30:41 AM

    Wedding Date in 2018 After Chinese New Year (1 Reply ) Asked by Andi | 1/5/2017 7:45:45 AM