Chinese Spring Festival (Chinese New Year)

Spring Festival (Chinese New Year)

Like 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.

New Year Calendar, Date and Holiday Duration

Day-by-Day Guide for Celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year:
Chinese Spring Festival is held on the first day of each year of the Chinese lunar calendar. In folk custom, the New Year celebrating starts from the Laba Festival (the 12th day of the 12th lunar month) or Little Year (the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month) to the Lantern Festival (the 15th day of the first lunar month). As the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, the Chinese New Year is also called the ‘the Lunar Chinese New Year’. 

Chinese New Year Date and Holiday Period:
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 Duration (Mainland China) Chinese Zodiac Animal
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.

Facts You Might Not Know about Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year also called Chinese Lunar New Year or Spring Festival is the biggest celebration on earth. Chinese New Year holiday is the longest Chinese holiday. Every Chinese New Year starts a new animal's zodiac year. Billions of red envelopes are given to Children during the New Year and Chinese like to decorate everything red for the New Year. You may not know the world's largest firework set off during New Year celebrations and the Spring Festival causes the largest human migration in the world. It’s funny that spending Chinese New Year is a headache for old singles! Click the following link to get more facts you might not know about Chinese New Year. 

Traditions and Customs of Chinese New Year

Various customs and activities are handed down by Chinese people such as pasting Spring Festival couplets, the character 'Fu', paper-cuts, Door Gods, displaying firecrackers and fireworks, paying New Year visits, and eating dumplings.
→ Traditions and Customs of Chinese New Year

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.
 
 
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.

What to Eat for Chinese New Year?

The foods and dishes during the Spring Festival vary from place to place in south and north, and each has its own characteristics. The most common Chinese New Year foods include dumpling, rice glue ball, rice cake, wonton, longevity noodle, fish, hotpot etc. and each has special meanings.

Red Envelopes

In China, it is a tradition to give red envelops during the Chinese New Year. The red envelop (红包, hóngbāo in mandarin and lai see in Cantonese) is also called red packet or lucky money. It is the money wrapped with red paper and usually given to kids by the elder during the Chinese New Year. Chinese people believe that once children have lucky money, they can bribe the ghosts, evil spirits or the Monster 'Nian' with the money received to prevent any harm and turn ill luck into good. Also, the red envelop means the blessing and good luck in a new year.
Red Envelope during Chinese New Year

How to Decorate for the Chinese New Year?

Before the Chinese New Year, people always clean and decorate their homes with colorful decorations. But it is far from enough. New Year marks the new beginning. So, it’s time to change the old environment thus enjoy a different new life. Let's see how to decorate a house full of Spring Festival atmosphere. 
Decoration Ideas for Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year 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.

Please click to get more information about taboos and superstitions of Chinese New Year:

New Year Gifts Ideas

It is a Chinese tradition to give gifts during the Spring Festival as a kind of love for family, care for friends, and respect and gratitude to leadership. Gifts are only a carrier of these feelings. As the saying goes, the gift is trifling but the feeling is profound and love is priceless. Then, what are the proper gifts for Chinese New Year? 

New Year 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: Wishing you make a lot of money and prosperous.)
萬事如意-- pinyin: Wànshìrúyì (meaning: May all your wishes be fulfilled)

→ More Chinese New Year Greetings and Sayings

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.

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