The Chinese New Year is the most important traditional festival in China, as well as an fundamental part of its culture. It is a special celebration for all Chinese people in the world. In this article, we will tell you 10 facts that you may not have known about the Chinese New Year.
1. It doesn’t have a fixed date
The date of the Chinese New Year changes every year. This is because it’s based on the Chinese lunar calendar, that follows the movements of the moon around the Earth, unlike the Western, solar calendar, that follows the Earth’s movements around the Sun.
Usually, the Chinese New Year falls on between mid-January and mid-February. In 2021, the Chinese New Year falls on Friday, February 12th.
2. The “Spring Festival”
It is also known as the “Spring Festival” (春节; Chūnjié) because it takes place at the beginning of that season. This is so because Spring is regarded as the start of the year. In fact, Chunjie is how the Chinese people call New Year festivities.
3. Chinese New Year lasts several days
The festival lasts 15 days, and the most important moment of the entire celebration is the eve of the Chinese New Year, the first day of the lunar month that marks the beginning of the new year. On the 15th day, the famous Lantern Festival takes place, signals marks the end of the celebration and in 2021, it is February 26th.
4. Travel agencies’ favorite season
Since it is the longest public holiday, millions of people from all over the country take the opportunity to travel and visit their relatives. Most employees have 7-12 days off and students have a month off from school. Apart from people traveling within China, Chinese people from, literally all over the world will try to go home for a family reunion, just like Westerners try to spend Christmas with their families.
Numerous families seize the opportunity to vacation together. So the amount of people traveling during those weeks is immense. This makes it the largest annual migration in the world. It is said that the total trips made by plane, train, bus and boat can reach almost 3 billion.
5. Time for Spring cleaning!
Whether it is a city apartment or a cottage, it is imperative to turn the house upside down for a thorough cleaning prior to Chinese New Year. Sweeping, scrubbing, washing… Sometimes the whole family has to help out with the chores, to make sure the house gets rid of the dust of the old year and is ready to receive the “fortune” of the New Year (and the relatives who come to visit during the holidays, of course).
6. The color red is a must
Once the houses are cleaned, each house is decorated in the favorite color: bright red. From red lanterns, Chinese knots, posters with Spring Festival (New Year) motifs to the sign panels on both sides of the doors, red brightens the scene.
In Chinese culture, the red red symbolizes good fortune and joy. People also believe that decorating the house in red keeps evil spirits away and brings good luck. By keeping the houses decorated in red and these ornaments, people hope that the family that lives inside will be surrounded by good fortune and joy for the next year.
In addition to the red lanterns, the decoration includes dragons, orange and tangerine trees and blooming plum trees.
7. The largest fireworks display of the world
Fireworks are an indispensable element of the celebration of the Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival. All families set off fireworks to celebrate the festival. The biggest fireworks display is the Lunar New Year’s Eve, as it is also called.
At midnight, when the Chinese New Year begins, the world’s largest fireworks display kicks off. In fact, did you know that China produces about 90% of the world’s fireworks?
8. The greetings
“过年 好” (guònián hao) is one of the most used greetings. It’s similar to what people from Western countries wish each other a “Happy New Year” or a “Merry Christmas”.
Although, Guonian hao is used to wish a happy new year, 过年 (guònián) literally means “past year”. It’s like saying “The year is over!”
That’s the reason why, in popular culture, the Spring Festival is also called “Guo Nian”. So many names for the same celebration, right? Well, look at it as an opportunity to expand your vocabulary 😉
Another greeting is “新年快乐” (xīnnián kuàilè) which is a more literal translation of “happy new year”, since 新年 (xīnnián) means “new year” and 快乐 (kuàilè) means “happy”.
9. The red packets
Chinese New Year red envelopes (红包; hóngbāo) are the “lucky money” that older generations give to young women as New Year gifts, similar to the gifts Westerners give at Christmas. Lucky money is usually placed in a red envelope or wrapped in red paper.
Since red symbolizes vitality, happiness and good luck in Chinese culture, people believe that giving children red envelopes can keep them safe and bring them good luck.
10. The dragon dance
The dragon dance is the traditional dance, so it’s pretty much part of the celebration itself. People believe that performing the dragon dance can drive away evil spirits and bring good fortune.
Is there more to know about it?
Yes! As it happens with many of the countless riches of this ancient culture, in this article we have only seen some facts of the Chinese New Year celebration.
One of the best ways to get to know a culture is by learning its language. For this reason, at Hanyu Chinese School, we have everything you need to study Chinese in the way that suits you best, from the comfort of your home and with the time you have, even if it is only a few minutes a week.
Contact us, we will be happy to answer your questions. And don’t forget to request your free lesson!