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Everything You Need to Know About the Chinese New Year

Everything You Need to Know About the Chinese New Year

TripBlog
18 Jul, 20197,3020

If you live in America or any other country outside of Asia, then you’re probably used to a particular kind of New Year celebration. For you, each new year begins on the 1st of January and is often hailed with fireworks, the dropping of a giant ball in New York City, and cheers. For many people from the West, this is the end of the New Year’s celebration, and you probably won’t think much about the new year except when you make a mistake and accidentally write down the last year’s date from time to time.

Table of Contents

When Is the Chinese New Year?
The Chinese Zodiac Symbols
The History of the Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival
Chinese New Year Traditions
The Lantern Festival
Visiting China During the New Year
Chinese New Year Parades and Activities

The Western New Year can be a fine and energetic celebration, but it pales in comparison to the attention that the New Year gets in China. Travelers will find that the Chinese New Year is an action packed festival that can go on for over two weeks. Since the Chinese New Year is celebrated at a different time than the Western New Year, travelers should have plenty of time to attend both.

When Is the Chinese New Year?

The Chinese calendar is lunar. Unlike the Gregorian calendar, months are determined by the phases of the moon, making each Chinese month roughly 29 days long. If you’re quick with math, you may have noticed that 29 does not fit nicely into 365. So the Chinese year is actually shorter than 365 days. For business reasons, the Chinese government follows the Gregorian calendar, but the Chinese people still celebrate the Spring Festival, or the traditional Chinese New Year, which falls on the second new moon following the winter solstice.

This typically places the Chinese New Year in February or towards the end of January. In 2019, the Year of the Pig will be ushered in in China on February 5th. It is called the Year of the Pig because Chinese years are associated with a rotating set of 12 animals — namely, the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac. The animal associated with each year has important cultural implications.

The Chinese Zodiac Symbols

The 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac are each associated with unique traits. People who are born during the year of a particular Zodiac sign are said to share the traits of their animal. Some traits to be aware of include:

  • Rat: Adaptable, intelligent, shy, stubborn
  • Ox: Honesty, patience, obstinance
  • Tiger: Tolerance, loyalty, arrogance, short-tempered
  • Rabbit: Gentle, sensitive, stubborn, conservative
  • Dragon: Inspirational, romantic, unrealistic
  • Snake: Intelligent, determined, suspicious, jealous
  • Horse: Zealous, kind, carefree
  • Sheep: Gentle, thoughtful, thrifty, timid
  • Monkey: Enthusiastic, innovative, selfish
  • Rooster: Independent, respectful, impatient
  • Dog: Loyal, brave, stubborn
  • Pig: Kind, honest, naive, short-tempered

The History of the Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival

The Chinese New Year is estimated to have first been celebrated as early as 2300 BC, long before the Gregorian calendar was even invented. For the Chinese, the Lunar New Year is much more than a celebration of days past and a resolution of things for the year to come. Instead, many Chinese use the New Year as a time for reflection and spiritual restoration. Many Chinese people will return to their hometowns for the celebration, making it the largest annual human migration in the world. This highlights the importance of the Spring Festival for Chinese people, but it also means that transportation is likely to get crowded; keep this in mind in case you plan on flying in China during the Spring Festival.

Chinese New Year Traditions

There are many traditions associated with the Chinese New Year. Some of these are traditions that you can expect to find throughout the country, and especially in major cultural hubs such as Shanghai, while others are very localized, and aren’t practiced very often outside of their home regions. Some traditions that you can expect to take part in if you visit for the Chinese New Year include:

  • Fireworks: Fireworks are a popular item in any New Year’s celebration, but they are especially central to the culture of the Spring Festival in China.
  • New Year’s Dinner and Shou Sui: A scrumptious feast is a common part of the New Year’s celebration, including local favorite dishes such as dumplings in Northern China. Shou Sui is the period of time following the meal while family members eagerly await midnight and the ringing in of the new year.
  • Red Packets: A red packet is literally a red envelope full of money given to young children by their parents or grandparents. Sometimes employees can also expect to receive red envelopes from their employers or managers as a bonus or gesture of appreciation.
  • Cleaning: The Chinese New Year often gives people a chance to do their spring cleaning a little early, as the new year is seen as an opportunity to refresh oneself through a thorough house cleaning.

The Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival is probably the most visually striking of all of the traditions associated with the Spring Festival. This festival happens on the 15th day of the Chinese New Year and signals an end to the main celebrations.

As a part of the festival, houses are decorated with colorful paper lanterns, sometimes with riddles attached. If you solve the riddle on a lantern, then you may receive a small gift in return. This is a great time to walk through any Chinese city, keeping an eye out for the colorful lanterns and for parades featuring lion and dragon dances.

Visiting China During the New Year

The Chinese New Year is a popular time for tourists to visit the country. If you’d like to visit during the Spring Festival and take part in any of its traditions, then it’s wise to book your hotel early. Rooms are likely to go quickly as tourists flood into the country for celebrations, and prices will be high if you wait until the eleventh hour to find room and board.

Chinese New Year Parades and Activities

Parades are common during the Chinese New Year, although the exact parades that are available will depend on the area that you’re visiting. If you visit a large city such as Shanghai or Beijing, then you’ll be certain to catch plenty of parades during the Spring Festival. Compare these cities to New York’s Times Square during the Western New Year, if you want some idea of what kind of modern marvels to expect.

Other activities worth taking part in include fireworks at midnight on the first day of the Chinese New Year, public performances such as Chinese opera and dragon dances, and street food at pop-up markets that are popular during the Spring Festival.

The Chinese New Year or Spring Festival is an excellent introduction to Eastern culture. For tourists who want to get the most action-packed experience during their travels, this is a great time to visit. However, make sure that you’re planning ahead by booking travel and living arrangements so that you don’t miss out on good deals and important cultural opportunities.

Disclaimer: This article has been used directly from the Qingqi Qiu Platform, the copyright belongs to the original author. If there is any discrepancy with the copyright please contact us directly and we will immediately delete the content.Index for Network Information Infringement Protection
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