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10 Facts about Chinese New Year


  • China

Our Expert



CTS Horizons is the UK's number one operator for China and beyond. We offer superb private journeys and tailor-made holidays to the world's most fascinating destinations!

The Chinese New Year also called Spring Festival (春天 chūnjié) is one of the major traditional holidays not only in China but also in other Asian countries such as Philippines or Indonesia. The celebration is becoming also increasingly popular in Western countries thanks to Chinese community spreading its traditions. So whether you are traveling to China or staying home, if you wish to celebrate in the best way read our 10 facts about Chinese New Year.

1. The Spring Festival is based on the Lunar Calendar
In 2018 celebrations for the Chinese new year will start on the 16th of February. But if you are planning a trip to China keep in mind that the starting date of the festival changes every year, from the 21st of January to the 20th of February, according to the Lunar calendar. Traditionally, the celebrations last for the first 15 days of the new year, while the actual holiday's length changes for students or workers.
2. Every year a Chinese Zodiac Animal
The Chinese zodiac is organised in a 12-year cycle in which each year corresponds to an animal. In order Rat (鼠), Ox (牛), Tiger (虎), Rabbit (兔), Dragon (龙), Snake (蛇), Horse (马), Goat (羊), Monkey (猴), Rooster (鸡), Dog (狗), Pig (猪). 2018 will be the year of the Dog. People born in the year of the dog are sincere, loyal and can cope with every-day life difficulties. So while they live in harmony with other people they are also independent. Dogs often have a good nature and are always inclined to helping others when needed.


3. Spring Festival in Winter
The Chinese name chūnjié 春节, literally translated in Spring Festival might seem strange since the holiday takes place in winter. This is because according to the 24 periods composing the ancient solar calendar, Spring starts between the 4th and the 18th of February. This period marks also the ending of the coldest part of winter.
4. The Lantern Festival
Each one of the 15 days of the Spring Festival has a special celebration activity, the last day is called Lantern Festival. It will fall on the 2nd of March 2018. It is considered one of the most interesting days of the New Year holiday.
The activities include reunite families lighting and watching Chinese big decorated lanterns, or even flying or let them float on rivers. In Chinese, this day is called yuánxiāo jié (元宵节) because the second important tradition is eating Yuanxiao, a glutinous rice ball typically filled with sweet sesame or red bean paste, or peanut butter.
5. The Monster
In Chinese, "to spend the Spring Festival" is said "Guò nián". The second word literally means year but in the past, its meaning and the relative Chinese character 年 used to indicate a terrible creature. The legend says that in ancient times a cruel monster called "Nian" used to come into towns to eat livestock and children, people then started using red firecrackers to scare it. This folkloristic habit is still very popular in modern China where massive quantities of red fireworks and firecrackers are consumed every year. 
6. Fireworks
China is the world's largest producer of fireworks accounting for around 90% of the total. The Spring Festival period sees the highest consumption of fireworks in the whole world. Especially on the Lunar New Year's Eve during which in a single hour before the midnight tons of fireworks are lighted, looking at Chinese cities from the distance it is a real sight to behold! Sparkles and flashing lights are everywhere, a really unique experience!
7. Going back home 
Thanks to its popularity in many Asian countries (Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and others) and its diffusion in many big western cities (in 2015 in London around 500 thousand people gathered in the centre to celebrate), it is estimated that nowadays around one-sixth of the whole world celebrate the Spring Festival. Over a billion people, not only in China visit their families board planes, trains, and boats to go back to their hometowns.
8. Chinese Dumplings
Everyone knows and probably tried Chinese dumplings (饺子 jiǎozi) at least once in his own life. But not everyone knows that it is one of the most typical dishes of the Chinese New Year, especially in the Northern provinces. Today people can easily eat them whenever they want but in the past poor families could not afford meat very often, and so they saved the resources for very special occasions.
9. Giving Red Envelopes
The Red envelopes (红包 Hóngbāo) are a common gift distributed by older people to younger relatives, or leaders to employees. They consist of red paper envelopes (the lucky colour used also for other decorations) with cash inside which represent both a bonus for the new year and a wish for good luck.
10. Wish Happy New Year and prosperity  
Do not get caught unprepared before your tour to China! A common expression to wish "Happy New Year" is 新年快乐 (Xīnnián kuàilè) which is a literal translation and is pronounced "sheen-nyan kwhy-leh". It used between friends, people just met or even strangers, as during this period is quite common to meet strangers on the street greeting each other with auspicious phrases. Another famous expression is 恭喜发财 (Gōngxǐ fācái), pronounced "gong-shee fa-tsai" meaning "Congratulations and be prosperous"
Here are the 10 important facts that you need to know to understand a little better this important traditional celebration. Here at CTS Horizons we wish all a Great Chinese New Year! 新年快乐!

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