The Chinese New Year Essay

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They wouldn’t get to eat as much food. They wouldn’t be enjoying their precious time with their family. Instead they would be working hard in the fields to earn a sufficient living wage. But Chinese New Year was a time when they felt they were on top. They thought that they were living the high life. They “all looked forward to, the one time when we would be guaranteed wonderful food, was the Chinese New Year.” It was one joyous occasion that helped them to endure their destitute lives.

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New Years is an exciting holiday in many countries. It marks a new period of time with the pure and pristine beginning for individuals. Every country has a unique cultural celebration and specific traditions depending on where you live. However, there is a big difference between how Asian people and Western people celebrate New Year. The three most noticeable differences are in the preparation, travel and length of the holiday will be last.

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First, Chinese Americans preserve their ethnic identities through holidays. One of the biggest holidays is the Chinese New Year. The Chinese New Year is different from the regular New Years in that it relies on the moon cycles instead of the western calendar, so it falls on different days each year. There is a lot of preparation that goes into the Chinese New Year. People start cleaning their houses and decorating them with spring couplets on the twentieth day of the twelfth moon. Spring couplets are short poems written on red scrolls of paper in black. A popular New Years tradition in the United States is the exchanging of red envelopes containing money, which are called hong-bao. Most families spend this holiday celebrating together because this holiday, above others, emphasizes family and family ties.

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There are many important traditions that were kept until this day. From generations to generations, the Lunar New Year was kept the same and we did not change anything about it or how we celebrate it. But the Lunar New Year, it is not only celebrated in the Vietnamese culture. It is also celebrated in many other Asian cultures, such as Korea and China. Korea celebrates their New Year on the same day as the American New Year is celebrated. I can tell that the most well known and popular holidays in the Viet culture is the Lunar New Year. Vietnamese culture called Lunar New Year as Têt. “In the Vietnamese old cultural beliefs, families believe that their activities during Têt must involve happiness, joy, and good luck.” Many families would have to prepare themselves ahead of time. Others would tell their children to behave on the day or week to avoid bad luck for the whole entire year. Vietnamese family take this old beliefs very seriously because it helped and motivated us that we have good lucks by our side throughout the year. That is why even before the beginning of Têt, families must prepare by cleaning and even painting their home in anticipation of spring, settle old debts and disputes, and pledge to behave nicely and work hard in the New Year. People also traditionally buy new clothes to usher in the New Year. Family goes visit our ancestors, like going to temple to pray or grave. The night before the New Year, families perform a ritual where incense sticks are burned, inviting the spirits of their ancestors to join them in celebration. “This is also a time to bid farewell to the family's Kitchen God (Ong Tao), who then returns to heaven to report on the family's behavior in the past year to the Jade Emperor.” This old belief will continues to spread throughout the country to new generations and will never be forgotten. During a Korean New Year, family comes together to celebrate. Family does

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Asia is such a large continent that being Asian already means you are part of a culturally diverse community. As an Asian American, you are mix of two cultures. We celebrate the lunar new year with huge family gatherings, gift exchanging, and food. Lots of food. Whether it be dumplings, kimchi, mattar paneer, mee goreng, or pho, our native cuisine will always make it to the dinner table. During the lunar new year, my family always prepares a huge hot pot, stuffed with shiitake and enokitake mushrooms, vegan fish balls, tofu, carrots, cabbage, ramen, bean sprouts, beancurd, and many other delicious foods. My grandparents hand us red envelopes and we bow to them to show our respect.

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Chinese New Year – Few lines, Short Essay and Full Essay

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Few lines about Chinese New Year

Brief essay on Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is a well-known Chinese festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year of the Chinese calendar. It is also known as lunar New Year or the Spring Festival as it marks the onset of spring. The first day of Chinese New Year begins on the new moon day that happens between 21 January and 20 February. In 2020 the Chinese New Year is celebrated on 25th January commencing the Year of the Rat. Chinese New Year is an important holiday in China and the festival is also celebrated worldwide in regions with significant Chinese populations.

Long Essay on Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year marks the beginning of a new year in the Chinese calendar. It is also termed as “Lunar New Year”, “Chinese New Year Festival”, and “Spring Festival”. Generally, the Chinese New Year falls on different dates every year in the Gregorian calendar. It is calculated based on the first new moon day that falls between 21th of January and 20th of February.

Chinese New Year celebrations starting from the New Year eve and ends with the Lantern festival that is held on the 15th day of the year. Chinese New Year is observed as a public holiday in china and in several countries with sizable Chinese and Korean population. It is the longest holidays in china. The holidays mark the end of the winter’s coldest days and people welcome the spring, praying to Gods for the upcoming planting and harvest season.

Different regional customs and traditions accompany the festival. Eating dumplings, Yule Log cake, tang yuan or ‘soup balls’, and red envelopes with ‘lucky’ money are part of customary celebration. According to some Myth, the Chinese New Year festival celebrates the death of a monster called Nian, which was killed by a brave boy with fire crackers on the New Year’s Eve. And that’s why firecrackers is considered the crucial part of the Spring Festival as it is believed to scare off monsters and bad luck.

This year, 2020, Chinese New Year falls on 25th of January is called the year of the Rat.

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chinese new year essay in mandarin

The Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is the most widely celebrated tradition in Asia. The tradition is usually celebrated on the first day of the first month on the Chinese Lunar calendar. This tradition is rooted in centuries-old customs and is one of the most popular public holidays in China. Apart from China, this tradition is also celebrated in many Asian countries like Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, and Japan. There are many values and rituals tied with this tradition. For example, people would wear red clothing, decorate the house with red paper, and give children "lucky money" in red envelopes. According to legend, it is said that red can drive away bad luck, which is why the color red is highly emphasized. In myths, our ancestors would light bamboo stalks, believing that the crackling flames would scare off evil spirits. This is why fireworks and firecrackers are set off during this special tradition. Other values and traditions during Chinese New Year dinner such as eating specific dishes during the New Years Eve Dinner, exchanging red envelopes, and cleaning the house. These traditions all emphasize one value: the importance of family reunion during Chinese New Year. Family reunion is essential because it is a time to interact with family and friends who often times do not live nearby. Family and relatives will plan their schedules around Chinese New Year dinner, instead of taking family for granted. Adults also teach children important tradition and lessons during Chinese New Year so that when they grow older, they would continue this tradition with their families. Instead of family and relatives trying to put family into their schedules, they will plan their schedules around this big holiday. In most Asian countries, winter... ... middle of paper ... ...ain time before you can use them. In conclusion, starting from the legends it was family that was there for one another protect themselves from the beast. If it were not for the family dinner from the myth they would have never discovered that the beast was scared of red. "Family and friends are the reason why Chinese New Year is not only significant for the Chinese community, but also for anyone lucky enough to experience the festivities from the outside" ("Why do we," 2012). Other rituals such as red envelopes, red clothing, and or greeting people are only tools so that when families reunite they can enjoy themselves. There is no one else in out there in the world that would care about you as much as your family. That is why family reunion is so important during Chinese New Year because it is a time where you can cherish and enjoy the company of one another.

In this essay, the author

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Memories of Spring Festival (Chinese New Year)

This is a guest post by Junjun from Little Jun’s Chinese . In this wonderful personal essay, she shares memories of celebrating Spring Festival with family, and describes various traditions and delicious food (seriously, prepare a snack before you read, you may get hungry!).

Junjun shares plenty of useful vocabulary related to the Spring Festival. You’ll find a link at the bottom of the article to download a vocabulary sheet with Pinyin support.

Over to Junjun…

For every Chinese or overseas Chinese, the Spring Festival has extraordinary significance. This festival not only means that the arrival of the New Year is accompanied by new hope, but it is also a day for family members to reunite and have a good time. Obviously, Wikipedia has made a very comprehensive description of the Spring Festival . However, I want to talk about the Spring Festival that I have experienced in my memory.

I come from the northeast of China, so every Spring Festival the northeast is very cold, almost minus 20 degrees. But when I was a child, I felt warm at heart, because I could meet my relatives, eat a lot of delicious food, watch beautiful fireworks, and most importantly, I could receive a lot of red pockets – money (although it was handed over to my mother in the end).

The Spring Festival generally lasts 15 days, and there are different things to do every day. From the last day of the previous year ( 大年三十 – Lunar New Year’s Eve) , we celebrate the holidays. Let me talk about my favorite days during this time.

大年三十(Lunar New Year’s Eve)

 I remember that on the morning of the last day before the Chinese New Year (the 30th of Lunar December) , we would throw away the old couplets on the door, and 贴春联 (paste the new couplets) : the right couplet (上联) on the right side of the gate, the left couplet (下联) on the left side of the gate, and the horizontal batches (横批 – the top scroll) on top of the door in between the two couplets. 

The background color of the Spring Festival couplets is red, and the words on the paper are black or gold. The couplets contain words of blessing. In the middle of the door, the word “Fu” ( 福, which means blessing, good luck) is posted. And we would paste the word “Fu” upside down, which is homophonically similar to “Fu has arrived”  (I will explain this later).

How did this tradition come about? There is a very interesting story.

It is said that Emperor Taizu Zhu Yuanzhang in the Ming Dynasty used the word “Fu” as a signal to kill people. In order to prevent this calamity, the kind queen instructed everyone in the city to put a “Fu” on their doors before dawn.

Naturally, no one dared to disobey the will of the queen, so the word “Fu” was posted on the door of every house. Among them, some households were illiterate and put the word “Fu” upside down. The next day, the emperor sent people to the street to check and found that every family had posted the word “Fu”, and another family had posted the word “Fu” upside down.

Upon hearing the report, the emperor was furious and immediately ordered the Yulin Army to kill all the people in the house. When the queen saw that things were not going well, she hurriedly said to Zhu Yuanzhang: “The family knew that you were visiting today and deliberately put the word “Fu” upside down. Doesn’t this mean ‘Fu Dao le’ (the arrival of good luck)?”

In Chinese, 倒 (upside down) and 到 (to arrive) has the same pronunciation.

When the emperor heard that it made sense, he ordered the release of the family, and a catastrophe was finally averted. Since then, people have put up the word “Fu” upside down, seeking auspiciousness and commemorating the queen.

There are other versions of the story, but I like this one the most. Of course, there are still many people who paste 福 upside-down on the trash can, which means to throw away bad luck. It’s because 倒 also has another meaning – to throw away.

  After posting the 福, my parents and I would go to my great-grandparents’ (太爷和太奶 – dad’s grandparents) house to celebrate the New Year. I would meet all the relatives on my dad’s side. 

When I was young, many people envied my family. When they heard that I had a great-grandfather and great-grandma, they said: “You are so blessed, 四世同堂 (four generations under the same roof) is so wonderful!”. 

When the whole family gathers together, it suddenly becomes lively. I would watch TV, play poker, and eat sweets with other cousins around my age. The adults would prepare New Year’s Eve dinner in the kitchen. My great-grandfather often called me a “small rice bucket” because he thought I always ate too much. I called him “old rice bucket” because he ate a lot as well! But on New Year’s Eve, in any case, adults will always tell the children to eat more and eat more, and then keep giving us food! New Year’s Eve dinner usually starts at two or three in the afternoon. 

In my memory, the New Year’s Eve dinner had these dishes:

Here are a few interesting traditions and beliefs around food:

During the meal, the family members sat happily together, chatting (唠家常 – northeast dialect) . But the children couldn’t sit all the time. In the evening, my father took me and other relatives of the same age downstairs to set off fireworks and firecrackers. It’s really beautiful, but because firecrackers are not safe, there are not too many people setting off firecrackers in the city now. What I like the most is the 呲花 (a kind of firework) . It is a thin stick, holding one in each hand. After lighting it, you can hold it with your hand and point it in the air in circles. It is shining and beautiful! Because the winter in the northeast is very cold, there are many snowdrifts during the Spring Festival. I would often  put the 呲花 (thin stick firework) on the snowdrifts and light them.

At 8 o’clock in the evening, CCTV1 and other channels will simultaneously broadcast the Spring Festival Gala. The Spring Festival Gala started in 1983. It has become a tradition for Chinese people to watch the Spring Festival Gala every Spring Festival. There are singing and dancing programmes and funny sketches (comedies).

Please allow me to share a few classic Spring Festival Gala songs:

故乡的云 (Clouds in my homeland) by 费翔 (Kris Phillips) – 1987

相约九八 (Meet in 1998)by 王菲 (Faye Wong) and 那英 (Na Ying) – 1998

时间都去哪了? (Time flies so fast) by王铮亮 – 2014

难忘今宵 (Unforgettable tonight) by 李谷一 – 2020

Every Chinese knows this song, because it has been the last program in the Chinese gala every year since 1984, so it’s the theme song for this gala.

My family members would make dumplings while watching the Spring Festival Gala. Sometimes we would put a red date in a few dumplings. If someone ate it, then he would be lucky all year. In fact, the most primitive way is to put a coin in it, but that is not safe and hygienic, so we used red dates instead of coins.

At midnight, the host will lead everyone to count down, 5…4..3..2..1… 过年好!HAPPY New Year!!! A new year begins! We would start eating dumplings! Our families usually eat dumplings stuffed with leek and shrimp and stuffed pork with celery, but there are more flavors.

大年初一(Lunar New Year’s Day)

A new year begins! I couldn’t wait to 拜年 (give New Year’s greetings) to the elders in my families! Usually, I would first give New Year’s greetings to the oldest person in the family, who were my great-grandparents! 

I would say: 祝你们福如东海, 寿比南山;身体健康, 长命百岁!

Key vocabulary

福如东海,寿比南山   – “Literally means good fortune is as boundless as the East China Sea and life is as long as South Mountain (on Hainan island). According to legend, drinking water from the East China Sea brings good fortune, and people living on the South Mountain lived longer and healthier lives. This phrase is often used as a blessing for the elderly, wishing them a long and abundant life .” – Source: Better Chinese LLC on Facebook.

身体健康,长命百岁- Good health and long life!

I remember they prepared the 红包 (red envelopes or red pockets) and looked at me with a smile on their faces. They handed me a red envelope which said: I wish you a healthy and happy new year, and academic progress! There was 200 yuan in it. I was so excited that I quickly thanked them, then excitedly found my coat and stuffed the money into my pocket! One after another, I gave New Year’s greetings to nearly ten elders, and the money in my hands was also increasing. At this time of the year, I have a sense of accomplishment because I feel that I am a rich person.

chinese new year essay in mandarin

Junjun and her great-grandparents – 1 May 2002

In China, there is also 本命年 (the year of fate – animal year). Counting from your birth, every 12 year-old i s a 本命年. Every year, there is a sign of the Chinese zodiac. I was born in 1998 (The year of the Tiger), so I am a tiger (in Chinese we say 我属虎). People in the animal year must wear red clothes, trousers and socks… I remember the Spring Festival when I was 12 years old, I was too sleepy to stay up late, but I told my mother, no matter what, I must wake up at 12 o’clock! So I remember when I just woke up I hurried to my great-aunt-in-law and she said: “Look at you, wearing little red pants and coming to pay me a New Year’s greeting!”

大年初二(Lunar New Year’s Second Day)

Normally, on the second day of the new year, we would leave my great-grandparents’ house and go to my grandma’s (mother’s mother) to continue celebrating the Chinese New Year. I would meet some relatives and continue making money! On the second day of the Lunar New Year, we were still the same as the first day, eating dumplings and having a reunion dinner.

大年初五 (Lunar New Year’s Fifth Day)

This day is also called 破五 (to break Fifth).You must eat dumplings on this day. There is a saying that there are more taboos from the first day to the fifth day, and people should not “do rashly”. After these days, people can celebrate and break these taboos by eating dumplings. But in my memory, I ate dumplings every day these days!

正月十五 (Lunar New Year’s 15th Day) as well as 元宵节 (Lantern Festival)

The Lantern Festival is also a day I like very much, because I can eat 元宵, made from soft sticky rice outside and sweet stuffing inside. My favorite 元宵 is sesame and peanut stuffing. 

On this day, CCTV1 also has a Lantern Festival gala, and people will also participate in 猜灯谜 (guessing lantern riddles) . People hang up colored lanterns and set off fireworks. Later, someone wrote the riddles on the paper and pasted them on the colorful lanterns for people to guess. 

The structure of lantern riddles is composed of three basic elements, namely”谜面”, “谜目” and “谜底”. These three parts are indispensable. 

An example of a lantern riddle

The clue is: 东方有战乱 (打一地名)- War in the East (a place name)

Solution: So, war in the East – West in peace – place – 西安!

I have more things to tell you about the Lantern Festival, so I will make a YouTube video. Have a look at my YouTube channel Little Jun’s Chinese if you are interested .

In short, this is the New Year in my memory. As I grow older, my anticipation for the Spring Festival is not as strong as when I was a child. Since the death of my great-grandparents a few years ago, the taste of the New Year has faded, so every time when I remember the past, I am very nostalgic. 

With the development of internet technology, the way of sending New Year ‘s greetings is becoming more and more novel. People can send WeChat New Year’s greetings. My grandparents live in Guangdong (southern China), so they send me WeChat red envelopes. But I am a little embarrassed. I have already made my own money and I am still collecting money from them. I may always be a child in their eyes!

New Year’s greetings

Finally, I would like to share with you some New Year greetings.

2021 is the year of the Ox. I wish you all a good Year of the Ox!

牛年大吉!(Best of luck in the Year of the Ox)


Happy New Year! I wish you good health, all the best, and great luck in the Year of the Ox!


In the Year of the Ox, good fortune is like a dragon, and family harmony is prosperous. The road to life is smooth everywhere, career and love (relationships) are both red (go smoothly).


Smooth sailing with lucky stars shining. Everything goes smoothly and makes huge progress. The four seasons are safe and spring is always there, and the wealth is rolling in forever.


Gold Ox screams farewell to the old year, and the five tigers roar to welcome the spring. Add a few more joys in the old year, and the new year will go to the next level.


Gold Ox arrives, good luck be with you! I wish you a lot of laughter and bullishness!


The blessings for the Spring Festival in the Year of the Ox are sent slowly, first to give you my blessing is a kind of fate between us (I am lucky to have the opportunity to send you my blessings), second to send a blessing of wealth, then wish your family happiness and reunion!

(缘, 源 and圆 has the same pronunciation with different good meanings)

缘-缘分 – fate/destiny

源-财源 -wealth

圆-团圆 – reunion with families

chinese new year essay in mandarin

About Junjun

Hey, everyone! My name is Junjun and I’m from Liaoning, China. I am a Mandarin Chinese teacher online as well as a part-time freelance translator. I have started a YouTube channel and I make videos related to useful Chinese, Chinese culture and hopefully one day I can sing Chinese songs while playing the guitar. 

My favourite quote is 功不唐捐(All efforts are not made for nothing).

加油, everyone!

Follow Junjun on Instagram , Facebook and YouTube .

Do you celebrate the Spring Festival? What are some of the traditions you and your family enjoy?

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Chinese New Year: Dates, Animals, Food, and Traditions

Chinese New Year: Dates, Animals, Food, and Traditions

Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is the most important festival in China  and a major event in some other East Asian countries.

Chinese New Year is the festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar. It was traditionally a time to honor deities and ancestors, and it has also become a time to feast and visit family members . 

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Chinese New Year Food

When Is Chinese New Year 2023?

Chinese New Year 2023 will fall on  Sunday, January 22nd, 2023.  

The date of the Chinese New Year is determined by  the Chinese lunar calendar . The date changes every year but is always somewhere in the period from January 21st to February 20th. Read more on  Chinese New Year dates from 2023 to 2030 .

What Is the 2023 Chinese Zodiac Animal?

Each Chinese year is associated with an animal sign according to the  Chinese zodiac  cycle.  2023 is  the year of the Rabbit , specifically, Water Rabbit. The sign of Rabbit is a symbol of longevity, peace, and prosperity in Chinese culture.  2023 is predicted to be a year of hope .

Why Is Chinese New Year Celebrated?

First, legend states that the Chinese New Year stemmed from an ancient battle against the  Nian  (/nyen/, which sounds the same as 'year' in Chinese), a terrifying beast that showed up every Lunar New Year 's Eve to eat people and livestock. To scare away the monster, people displayed red paper, burned bamboo, lit candles, and wore red clothes. These traditions have been continued until the present time. 

Second,  it is a celebration of the arrival of spring and the beginning of a new year on the Chinese lunisolar calendar.  

Read more on:

How Long Is Chinese New Year?

Celebrations of Chinese New Year traditionally last for 16 days , starting from Chinese New Year's Eve to the Lantern Festival. The first 7 days are a public holiday, from January 21st to January 27th in 2023.

The most notable dates of the Chinese New Year 2023 are these days:

Chinese New Year Traditions   

Regional customs and traditions vary widely but share the same theme: seeing out the old year and welcoming in the luck and prosperity of a new year. The main Chinese New Year activities include

1. Cleaning and Decorating Houses with Red Things

People give their houses a thorough cleaning before the Spring Festival, which symbolizes sweeping away the bad luck of the preceding year and making their homes ready to receive good luck.

Red is the main color for the festival, as red is believed to be an auspicious color for the Lunar New Year, denoting prosperity and energy — which ward off evil spirits and negativity . Red lanterns hang in streets; red couplets  and New Year pictures are pasted on doors. 

2. Offering Sacrifices to Ancestors

Honoring the dead is a Chinese New Year’s tradition that’s kept to the word. Many Chinese people visit ancestors' graves on the day before the Chinese New Year's day,  offer sacrifices to ancestors before the reunion dinner (to show that they are letting their ancestors "eat" first), and add an extra glass and place it at the dinner table on New Year’s eve. 

3. Enjoying a Family Reunion Dinner on Lunar New Year's Eve

Chinese New Year (Lunar New Year) is a time for families to be together. Chinese New Year's Eve is the most important time. Wherever they are, people are expected to be home to celebrate the festival with their families. The Chinese New Year's Eve dinner is called ' reunion dinner '. Big families of several generations sit around round tables and enjoy the food and time together.

4. Exchanging Red Envelopes and other Gifts 

Chinese New Year is a season of red envelopes (or red packets, lìshì or lai see in Cantonese). Red envelopes have money in, and are often given to children and (retired) seniors.

The red envelope (money) is called ya sui qian (压岁钱 /yaa sway chyen/), which means 'suppressing Sui [the demon]money'. Those who receive a red envelope are wished another safe and peaceful year. 

Other popular Lunar New Year gifts are alcohol, tea, fruits, and candies.

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5. Setting Off Firecrackers and Fireworks

From public displays in major cities to millions of private celebrations in China's rural areas, setting off firecrackers and fireworks is an indispensable festive activity. It is a way to scare away the evil and welcome the new year's arrival. 

Billions of fireworks go up in China at 12 am and in the first minutes of Chinese New Year, the most anywhere at any time of year.

6. Watching Lion and Dragon Dances

Lion dances  and  dragon dances  are widely seen in China and Chinatowns in many Western countries during the Lunar New Year period. They are performed to bring prosperity and good luck for the upcoming year or event.

There are more  Chinese New Year traditions and customs , such as wearing new clothes, staying up late on Chinese New Year's Eve, watching the Spring Festival Gala, etc. 

Food is an important part of Chinese New Year. Lucky food is served during the 16-day festival season, especially on the New Year's Eve family reunion dinner.

Read more on: 

Chinese New Year Superstitions: Things You Mustn't Do

Chinese people traditionally believe that the year's start affects the whole year, so China’s Spring Festival is a season of superstitions. It's believed that what something looks like (color, shape), and what its name sounds like, gives it auspicious or ill-fated significance. There are many things you cannot do:

See more on  Chinese New Year Taboos and Superstitions: Top 18 Things You Should Not Do .

How to Say "Happy Chinese New Year" in Chinese

When people meet friends, relatives, colleagues, and even strangers during the festive period, they usually say “Xīnnián hǎo” (新年好), literally meaning 'New Year Goodness', or “Xīnnián kuàilè” (新年快乐), meaning ‘Happy Chinese New Year’.

One of the most famous traditional greetings for Chinese New Year is the Cantonese  kung hei fat choi , literally ‘happiness and prosperity’. In Mandarin that’s  gongxi facai .

新年好  — Happy Chinese  New Year

恭喜发财 — Happiness and prosperity 

For more greetings and wishes, see 

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Chinese New Year Celebration

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Chinese New Year is the biggest holiday celebrated among Chinese people. It is often referred to as the spring festival because it signals the beginning of spring. It is a time when families and friends get together to say goodbye to the old and welcome the new. It originally lasted for 15 days, but now only lasts for 5 to 7 days. The exact origin of this Chinese New Year holiday is too old to be traced, but many explanations still exist. One idea is that the holiday originated when a beast named Nian (which means year in Chinese) came out the night before the new year and started to prey on the people in the villages.

Of course, the people were very frightened by this monster and so a brave old man went up to the beast and said to him that instead of eating the people of the villages, he should eat the other beasts that frightened these people. Nian followed the old man’s request and all of the beasts were chased into the forest.


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The old man rode away on Nian’s back, and as it turns out, the man was an immortal god. The people of the village were very grateful to the old man for giving them a peaceful life.

Before the old man left for good, he told the people to put up red paper decorations on their windows and doors at the beginning of each new year because the color red scared the beast. They also set off firecrackers to scare away the horrible beast.

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This is only one idea about how Chinese New Year began, there are many other ideas about how this celebration began. Most people just celebrate the holiday without really knowing why. Another interesting thing about Chinese New Year is that very few people know when this holiday is celebrated without looking at a traditional Chinese calendar because it never falls on the same day. Chinese New Year dates changes every year, and many are still not sure why. I asked myself the same question and finally I figured out. This is because Chinese New year follows the Chinese Lunar Calendar which is different with the western calendar which is the Gregorian Calendar. The first day of Chinese New Year starts on the New Moon closest to spring.

The Chinese calendar is very different from the Western calendar. The primary difference is that the months of the Chinese calendar are directly tied to the phases of the Moon. These phases, however, do not fit in with the length of the year as measured by the Earth’s revolution around the sun. The Western calendar is fixed in the sense that each New Year begins on Solar or in other words, the Western calendar date January first. Because the Chinese New Year must correlate with a moon phase, it falls as early as January 22nd and as late as February 19th on the Western calendar. This has significant implications for Chinese Astrology. First, however, it’s important to understand the primary difference between Chinese and Western astrology. Chinese astrology focuses on the year sign, and Western astrology focuses on the month sign such as Libra, Virgo and etc. However, Chinese Astrology, have month signs. This can be very confusing because the month signs have the same name as the year signs.

Furthermore, when we say a Chinese sign corresponds to a Western sign, an example will be an Ox to Capricorn, it does not mean the person was born in a Capricorn month. Rather, we mean the person’s Chinese year-sign traits roughly correspond to the traits of that Western sign. Adding to the confusion is the fact we can’t know a person’s Western sign simply by knowing the person’s Chinese month sign. Let me give you an example, a person born on the first day of the seventh month which means July 1 in Western terminology of the Chinese calendar year 1979 was actually born on August 23rd of the Western calendar. Since July 1st is Cancer and August 23 is Leo, it’s easy to see the confusion. As with the months, neither do Chinese and Western years match exactly. Thus, even though we might know a person’s Chinese sign, we still cannot be sure of their year of birth. Conversely, if we know a person’s year of birth, we cannot be sure of their Chinese sign.

Let’s say someone was born in 1978 (Chinese year of the Horse) on the Western calendar. They would only be the Horse sign if born after February 6th. Since, Chinese New Year was February7th by the Western calendar. The Chinese Horse year 1978 actually has the Western calendar dates included in the period February 7, 1978 through January 27, 1979. This is especially important when evaluating compatibility. Signs most compatible with the Horse (Tiger and Dog) are not nearly so compatible with the Snake, which is the sign of people born in 1978 but earlier than February 7th on the Western calendar.

I hope you will get a clearer view about the differences of the Chinese Lunar Calendar and the Gregorian Calendar. And now, Now lets talk about the zodiac signs in the Chinese astrology, which are the 12 animals. Similar with Western astrology, it has also 12 signs, but instead of changing every month, they change every year. Each zodiac animal recur every twelfth year .Each animal in the Chinese zodiac has its own unique qualities that affect everyone, if you believe in this sort of thing, which I totally do. On February 10th, 2012, we enter the year of the Snake, which means we’re all in for a year of ramming our heads into things, filing our hooves, and being competitive for no reason.

Even with only 12 signs, Chinese astrology runs on a 60-year cycle. Elements come into play. There are 5 main elements which are Earth, Fire, Water, Wood, and Metal, as well as our old friends Yin (female) and Yang (male). So as we leave 2012, the year of the Yang Water Dragon, we enter the 2013 and will be the year of the Yin Water Snake, and so on.

Let’s talk about what sign you are!

If you’re born in October like me, and you think you already know your birth sign because you read it on a placemat in a Chinese restaurant when you were a kid, chances are it was wrong. Placemats always say something like “1997 = Rat” when it would be more accurate to say, “February 19, 1996 to February 7, 1997 = Rat” because Chinese New Year comes a month after Western New Year. So if you’re born in January of 1996, you’re not a Rat, you’re actually a Pig. That might come as a relief to you, because Pig are awesome but, as we’ll see, Rats have their charms too. Below is the zodiac following with its respective year and characteristics. See which zodiac belongs to you.

RAT (1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008) – If you’re born in a rat year, you’re tenacious, charming, and clever. Remember Templeton in Charlotte’s Web? Who turned out to be a good guy after all, even though he hoarded rotten eggs? You make a good friend, being loyal and generous to those in your pack. You might be greedy, envious, and manipulative, though, so watch it.

OX (1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009) – The ox is powerful, calm, goal-oriented, and patient, which is a nice way of saying stubborn as hell. You can also be introverted, and sometimes lonely and insecure.

TIGER (1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010) – You are one sexy animal, tiger, as well as being daring, restless, unpredictable, warm, and sincere.

RABBIT (1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011) – Aw, you’re a bunny! Me, too. Soft, gracious, elegant, shy, lucky, and kind of a pushover, you like to be around friends and family but you hate it when people try to pick you up by your ears. Or cut off your foot for good luck.

DRAGON (1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012) – Dragons are dignified, fiery, warm-hearted, competitive, and make good leaders. They can also be eccentric, arrogant, and they will blast people who annoy them with some scary verbal fire. That can really scour the enamel off your teeth, Dragon, so try to keep your cool and see your dentist regularly.

SNAKE (1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013) – Snakes are deep, mystical, good with money, a little dangerous, gregarious, and intuitive. They can also be mistrustful, cold (unless they stay under their heat lamps), and suffocating (if they decide they want to keep you forever and/or eat you head-first).

HORSE (1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014) – Horses need to roam, which some people think makes them fickle, unmoored, and anxious. But horse lovers know that all that muscle, mental and otherwise, needs to be used or else it goes soft! Cheerful and popular, overworked horses have also been known to fall asleep standing up. Just throw a blanket over them, they’ll be fine.

SHEEP (1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015) – Sheep are shy, peaceful loners who love nothing more than mothering the heck out of somebody. This also means that they worry a lot, so if you have a Sheep for a parent, they’ll freak out extra if they haven’t heard from you lately. They just need a little reassurance to keep them warm and fluffy.

MONKEY (1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016) – Monkeys are inventors and problem-solvers. They love facts and can get a little competitive; they can be the type who always needs to be right, and frankly they’re somewhat vain. What they really need is to have some fun!

ROOSTER (1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017) – You might think a Rooster would be strutting around, waking people up far too early in the morning, but actually Roosters are neat, organized, conservative, and a little bit proud of themselves.

DOG (1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018) – Dogs can be, well, Dogs. Sure, they’re loyal, fair, and unpretentious, but look out for those little white lies they tell you, girlfriend. They can be a little moody and have trouble finding true love unless they can stay in touch with their open-minded, affectionate side, and have regular baths to keep the fleas away.

PIG (1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019) – Pigs are the best. Always ready to help out a friend and never snobbish, a Pig will be happy to help you move that sofa, as long as she’s properly thanked in return. A naive, gullible Pig will soon be your worst enemy if you take advantage.

So which zodiac sign do you belong?

Image 2: Chinese New Year decorations that usually used to hang around the house.

Image 3: Chinese New Year decorations that usually used to paste in front of the door.

We Chinese people tend to believe in Feng Shui which means the practice of bringing harmony and peace into your life. In my family, during Chinese New Year, we will rearrange our furnitures and we will get rid of some of the old furnitures and get a new set. Before the start of Chinese New Year, we will clean our house an make sure everything looks new and clean.

After thoroughly cleansing the home, we will decorate the house with auspicious red color decor items carrying golden inscriptions with the symbols of Happiness, Longevity, Prosperity, etc. Various flowers, , Lucky Bamboo, Plum Blossoms and others are used in the Chinese New Year home decor according to the specific meaning of each flower. We will hang the decors around the house and we will also stick the decors in front of our house door. Image 2 and 3 are some of the Chinese New Year decoration pictures. Decorations of the incoming zodiac animal are also displayed. Red and gold are very popular colors to decorate with. Red represents power happiness, vitality (and scares away beasts). Gold represents wealth and good fortune.

Image 4: The Jade Emporer Image 5: Kitchen God

Besides that, you will also see the mystic knot symbol used in numerous decor items, as well as images of many ancient gods venerated in Chinese culture, such as Guan Yu, the God of War and Justice, the Jade Emperor, as well as the popular Kitchen God. Basically, all the efforts are directed towards creating clean and harmonious energy in your home in order to welcome the blessings of the New Year.

Chinese New Year will last for up to 15 days, now let’s talk about what we Chinese do during the 15 days of Chinese New Year and the day before the start of Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year Eve

Image 6: Fatt Choy Image 7: Sea Cucumber This day is where all relatives will gather at the grand parent house for reunion dinner. Family members will be seated together in one table to eat the meal. Reunion dinner includes chicken, pork, sea cucumber, cucumber, fish and many more. Famous dishes of the reunion dinner which are White steamed chicken, Fatt Choy which means a type of black hair-like algae, Abalone and etc. Me and my family will drive back to our hometown which is in Ipoh, Perak and spend a couple of nights there with my grandparents and relatives.

The first day of Chinese New Year which means Xin Nian Kuai Le (Happy Chinese New Year) ! it is celebrated the most widely by the Buddhists. Many cities across the world consider the first two days of Chinese New Year to be a public holiday, businesses and offices are usually closed. On the first day of Chinese New Year, Buddhists typically refrain from eating meat or killing animals. Fireworks, lion dances, and parades will fill the streets. Senior members of the family are especially honored, and younger people receive Ang Pao (Money in Red envelopes) and sweets from their elders. In my family, on the first day, me and my siblings will dress into our new clothes. And then we will have an Ang Pao giving ceremony. We will first greet our parents by kneeling down on the floor, as a form of respect. And then we will wish our parents, we will start our wishes with Gong Xi Fa Chai which means wishing you to be prosperous in the coming year , and following with other wishes. For example, Sheng Ti Jian Kang (Good Health), Cai Yuan Gun Gun (Good Wealth) and many other more. And then, we will start our day with visiting or relatives and friends.

The second day of Chinese New Year is considered as Cai Shen, also known as the God of Wealth’s birthday. Some consider this day to be important for dogs and reward them with treats! Friends and family members are typically visited, because the following day is considered a bad day to socialize away from home. Me and my family members will first go to the temple for praying purpose, in order to get blessing by the gods above to have a good life ahead. After that, we will continue to do visiting.

In direct contrast with the first two days of Chinese New Year, day three is considered a bad day to visit friends and family. Superstitious and orthodox followers choose to remain at home, or go to have their fortunes told at a temple dedicated to the God of Wealth.

Although Chinese New Year traditions and superstitions persist, business returns to normal on the fourth day in many places. Corporations may have department dinners or social events for their employees.

Dumplings are consumed in mainland China on day five. Some groups shoot firecrackers to hopefully bring blessings from Guan Yu — a famous Chinese general considered the Taoist God of War.

Offices reopen and business returns to normal in places that observe the first five days of Chinese New Year as a public holiday. Again, more firecrackers are thrown to keep away malicious spirits who may interfere with business.

Day seven is Ren Re. Means its everyone’s birthday, it is considered by many to be the day that everyone grows one year older. Buddhists do not eat meat, and Chinese communities in Southeast Asia consume raw fish salad to ensure prosperity.

The eighth day of Chinese New Year is the eve of the Jade Emperor’s birthday; special family dinners are held to honor Yu Huang, the Ruler of Heaven. Many employers will thank their employees with food.

The birthday of the Jade Emperor is considered extra important by the Hokkien Chinese in Malaysia and Singapore. Prayers are offered and incense is lit. Sugarcane is considered a traditional offering. Sugarcane will be the main offerings because back in the past,

Recognition and offerings continue to be offered to the Jade Emperor on day 10.

Day 11 – 12

Aside from family dinners, these days are relatively quiet on Chinese New Year.

After a gluttonous twelve days of eating, everyone converts to vegetarian on the thirteenth day as a peace offering to weary digestive systems. Day 13 is mostly dedicated to Guan Yu, the God of War. Although everyone is long since back to work, businesses will offer special thanks to the famous general.

Day 14 is spent resting and preparing for the Lantern Festival — the final Chinese New Year blowout. Day 15

Considered by many to be the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day, the fifteenth and last day of Chinese New Year brings another round of fireworks, shows, and celebration. Most romantic of the Chinese New Year traditions, single women once wrote contact information on oranges, then threw them into the river. Men would collect the oranges and determine if they would take a chance with contact based on the sweetness or sourness of the orange! Not to be confused with the Mid-Autumn Festival, which is sometimes also referred to as the Lantern Festival, candles are lit everywhere to attract friendly spirits. Large processions walk the streets with candles and lanterns.

During the Chinese New Year’s celebration, people participate in many traditional activities. The Chinese believe that as they enter a new year, they should put behind them all things of the past. They clean their houses, pay off debts, purchase new clothes, paint their doors and window panes, and even get new haircuts. These activities symbolize new life and new beginnings.

Activities like cleaning the house must be done before the start of Chinese New Year. If a person who use broom during the Chinese New Year period, he or she will be said to have bad luck in future. Homes are decorated with flowers and paper decorations stating wishes of prosperity, good luck, happiness, good fortune, wealth, and longevity for the coming year. Decorations of the incoming zodiac animal are also displayed. Red and gold are very popular colors to decorate with. Red represents power happiness, vitality (and scares away beasts). Gold represents wealth and good fortune.

One very important tradition of the Chinese New Year is exchanging gifts. A traditional gift that is given is small red envelopes filled with “lucky money”. These envelopes are given to children by their family and friends. The red color is used to bring good fortune, and the money inside is used by the children to buy holiday treats. These envelopes symbolize the giving of good fortune.

Food is also very important to New Year’s celebrations. Families and friends get together for large feasts. Before they eat, they place their food on alters and make offerings to the gods. The foods served at these feasts vary, but what is served is always a tradition for that family.

The dragon is another popular symbol for Chinese New Year. It is a symbol of strength, goodness, and good luck, and supernatural forces. The dragon is said to be a mythical combination of many animals. During New Years, one of the main events is a large parade down the city streets. As part of this parade, people dress up in dragon costumes and dance down the streets. These costumes are made of brightly colored silk and decorated very extravagantly. Some of the dragons are 100 feet long! Men and boys perform intricate dragon dances with one person manipulating the head of the dragon and the rest moving the body.

A Chinese New Year celebration would not be complete without fireworks. There are many beliefs about why fireworks are used. One is that the noise wakes up the dragon who will fly across the sky to bring the spring rain for the crops. Another belief is that the noise of the fireworks is supposed to scare away all evil spirits and misfortunes, preventing them from coming into the new year. In fact, gunpowder was invented in China over 1000 years ago for that very purpose. Firecrackers are thrown at the feet of the dragons in the parade to keep them awake for the celebration. The dragons are believed to sleep the rest of the year.

The Eve of the New Year is the most strictly observed part of the holiday. It starts out with a late night feast with members of the family. Ancestors are honored and offering of food and incense are made to the gods. At the strike of midnight, the celebrating really begins. The sky is filled with fireworks and the streets are filled with people wishing each other a happy new year. The next morning, gifts are exchanged among family members and friends. During the remaining days of the celebration, time is spent visiting friends and wishing them luck in the new year. New Years Eve and the first three days of the new year are officially observed as a holiday. During this time the majority of businesses (with the exception of movie theaters and restaurants) shut down for the celebrating. People return to work somewhere between the fifth and eight day of the new year, but the spirit of celebration lasts through the Festival of Lanterns on the 15th day of the new year. After this, life takes on it’s normal routines again.

It is important to remember that Chinese New Year is not only celebrated in China. Anywhere there are Chinese people, there is a Chinese New Year celebration. The specific activities of the celebration often vary depending on the region, but the basic principles are the same.


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Tan Nan Junior College of Technology. (1996). Chinese New Year. [On-line]. Available: year.html.

Warren, J. & McKinnon, E. (1988). Small World Celebrations. Everett, WA: Warren.

Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year is now popularly known as the Spring Festival because it starts at the beginning of spring . The beginning of spring is usually around the forth or fifth of Feburary. It’s origins are too old to be traced but several explanations have been presented. All agree that the word Nian, now chinese for year, was originally the name of a monster that started to prey on people the night before the beginning of the new year. One legend goes that the monster had an enormous mouth that could swallow a great amount of people in one bite. One day, an old man came to their rescue, offering to subdue Nian.

He said to the monster,”I hear say that you are very capable, but can you swallow other beast of prey on earth instead of people who by no means of your worthy opponents? ” So Nian went off and swallowed many of the beast of prey on earth that also harrassed people and their domestic animals. After that, the old man disappeared riding Nian. The old man turned out to be an immortal god and before he left, he told the people to put red paper decorations on their windows and doors at each year’s end to scare away Nian in case it sneaked back again, because red is the color the beast feared the most.

From then on, the tradition of observing the conquest of Nian has been carried on from generation to generation. The custom of putting up red paper and firing fire-crackers to scare away Nian is still around. However, people today have long forgotten why they are doing all this, except that they feel that the color and the sound add to the excitement of the celebration. Even though the cilmax of the Chinese New Year, Nian, lasts only two or three days including the New Year’s eve, the New Year’s celebration extends from the mid-twelfth month of the previous year to the middle of the first month of the new year.

A month before new years is a good time for business. People will pour out their money to buy presents, decorations, food and clothing. The transportation department, railroad in particular, is nervously waiting for the crowds of travelers who take their days off around New Year to go back home for a family reunion from all parts of the country. Days before the New Year, every family is busy cleaning their homes, hoping to sweep away all the ill-fortune there may have been in the family to make way for the wishful in-coming good luck. People also give their doors and window panes a fresh coat of red paint.

They decorate thier doors and windows with couplets with the very popular theme of “happiness”, “wealth”, “longivity”, and “satisfactory marriage with more children”. Paintings of the same theme are hung inside the house. The eve of the New Year is carefully planned. At dinner, one the most popular dish is jiaozi, dumplings boiled in water. “Jiaozi” in chinese means, “to sleep together and have sons”, a good wish for a family. After dinner, the whole family stays up and play cards or a board game. Every light in the house is susposed to be kept on the whole night.

At midnight, the whole sky will be lit up by fireworks. Early the next morning the children recieve gifts of money wrapped in red paper from thier parents. The family then goes out greeting relatives and neighbors. During and several days after New Year’s day people are visiting eachother so they exchange alot of gifts. Although many of the people who celebrate Chinese New Year have long since forgotten it’s original meaning, it remains one of the most culturally rich celebrations around today. In many ways it is like our Christmas, Forth of July, and New Years all rolled into one.

Chinese New Year Celebration. (2017, Jan 18). Retrieved from

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Chinese New Year Celebration

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Chinese New Year

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Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year , also called Lunar New Year , annual 15-day festival in China and Chinese communities around the world that begins with the new moon that occurs sometime between January 21 and February 20 according to Western calendars . Festivities last until the following full moon .

The origin and traditions of the Lunar New Year, explained

The holiday is sometimes called the Lunar New Year because the dates of celebration follow the phases of the moon. Since the mid-1990s people in China have been given seven consecutive days off work during the Chinese New Year. This week of relaxation has been designated Spring Festival, a term that is sometimes used to refer to the Chinese New Year in general.

Exterior of the Forbidden City. The Palace of Heavenly Purity. Imperial palace complex, Beijing (Peking), China during Ming and Qing dynasties. Now known as the Palace Museum, north of Tiananmen Square. UNESCO World Heritage site.

The origins of the Chinese New Year are steeped in legend . One legend is that thousands of years ago a monster named Nian (“Year”) would attack villagers at the beginning of each new year. The monster was afraid of loud noises, bright lights, and the colour red, so those things were used to chase the beast away. Celebrations to usher out the old year and bring forth the luck and prosperity of the new one, therefore, often include firecrackers, fireworks , and red clothes and decorations. Young people are given money in colourful red envelopes. In addition, Chinese New Year is a time to feast and to visit family members. Many traditions of the season honour relatives who have died.

Chinese New Year: Lantern Festival

Among other Chinese New Year traditions is the thorough cleaning of one’s home to rid the resident of any lingering bad luck. Some people prepare and enjoy special foods on certain days during the celebrations. The last event held during the Chinese New Year is called the Lantern Festival , during which people hang glowing lanterns in temples or carry them during a nighttime parade . Since the dragon is a Chinese symbol of good fortune, a dragon dance highlights festival celebrations in many areas. This procession involves a long, colourful dragon being carried through the streets by numerous dancers.

News for Kids

happy chinese new year

Interesting Facts for Kids

Here are some interesting Chinese New Year Facts which were chosen and researched by kids especially for kids.

This new year celebration is also called Lunar New Year and celebrated also as Spring Festival. It is celebrated in January or February in many countries around the world, especially in countries with larger Asian communities.

Next year, the first month of the new lunar year will start according to the Chinese calendar on 22 January 2022 .  

lunar new year of rabbit

Many countries celebrate the new year according to the Chinese Calendar and not only to our calendar which is the Gregorian calendar starting on the 1st of January.

Lunar New Year is an important public holiday for many countries including China, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. In many other countries, Chinese communities celebrate in the city's 'Chinatown' districts. 

In some countries the festivities for the Lunar New Year also might have special names, such as Tet is the name for the Vietnamese celebrations.

What is Chinese New Year?

This important date on the Chinese calendar has been celebrated for many centuries. During the festivities ancestors are honoured and traditional ceremonies are held where people get together and welcome the new year with customs that shall bring good luck, good fortune, wealth, prosperity and happiness.

The spring festival festivities for the new year take 15 days in most countries. The new year is often celebrated with dragon dances, lion dances, gift exchanging and fireworks. It ends typically with lantern festivals on the 15th day of the first calendar month. See below an image from the Pingxi Sky Festival which is celebrated in Taiwan every year to end the new year's festivities.

Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival in Taiwan - image by Carlos Huang/

The Chinese Calendar

The Chinese calendar is about one month behind our (so called Gregorian) calendar as it has between 30 and 50 more days per year. And the Chinese zodiac calendar has a cycle of 12 years. The calendar was started on astronomical observations of the moon's phases.

Each year a Chinese zodiac animal is the symbol for the year.

The 12 Chinese zodiac animals are: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.

Chinese Zodiac Signs

Look again at the listing of animals! They always come in the same order, so 2021 was the year of the ox, 2022 the year of the tiger and 2023 is the year of the rabbit

Which animal will it be in 2024? (We share the answer at the bottom of the page under 'Resources')

Lunar New Year Wishes

People wish each other good luck, happiness and wealth for the new year. The words used most in good wishes are: happiness, wealth, prosperity, prosperous, auspicious

' Gong Xi Fa Cai ' means 'Have a prosperous new year'

Gong Xi Fa Cai - Happy Lunar New Year

Most common are the Mandarin words: Gong Xi Fa Cai (try to pronounce it as Gong-she-faa-tsai) and the Cantonese: Gong Hey Fat Choy (pronounce it as: Gong Hee Faat Choy). Both wishes mean: Wishing you a prosperous new year. 

Typical Chinese New Year Food

People eat ‘auspicious food’ during the new year period. For many, this means fish dishes. A fish is a symbol of good luck, wealth and healthy life.

Dumplings are traditionally eaten during the festivities. These little round rice flour balls are often filled with vegetables. Mandarin oranges, dried fruit and even sweets are seen as lucky food. Candy boxes and little round shaped biscuits symbolising gold or fortune are served everywhere.

Chinese New Year dinner with family and friends

And make sure your plate is never empty, as this would be seen as your luck has run out. Food is often prepared up to a week before, so one must not use a knife or fire for cooking on New Years day, as cutting with a knife for many would symbolise ill luck.

A popular food are long noodles that symbolise good fortune as well as a long life.

Yusheng - good luck food for Chinese New Year

A typical new year's dish is Yusheng . This raw fish salad with rice or long noodles is eaten during by many during the festive period.

Many eat Yusheng on the seventh day of the new year. The dish is a symbol for wealth and longevity, this fish salad is usually served in a huge dish in the middle of a table, where family members and friends toss the noodles in the big bowl together and then eat.

Lunar New Year Traditions

Dragon dances and lion dance festivals will usher in the new year in many cities. Some families may even invite a dance troupe into their homes as well.

Lunar new year's dragon dance in Vietnam - image by Saigoneer/

Firecrackers are lit as these shall bring good luck and fortune. However, due to security reasons, firecrackers are banned in many areas nowadays and official fireworks displays are held instead.

On the second day of the new year, families will visit each other and hand over little gifts. And sometimes even the family dog gets a gift too!

Gifts are handed money or little tokens in 'red packets' or little red envelopes as these symbolise prosperity and happiness. Married family members hand red envelopes (called hongbao in Mandarin) with money to others to show their goodwill and give blessings for the new year to the other family members.

Chinese New Year Traditions: Red envelopes or hongboa are presented to children - image by Artisticco/

Children sometimes get oranges, sweets or coins. Always make sure to give an even number of gifts or in the amount of money. So always at least two mandarins, two packets or two coins. And the number eight is considered an especially lucky or auspicious number.

Chinese New Year red packets and oranges - image:

The bright colours and especially red colours are seen as a lucky symbol. Red decorations, lanterns and colourful symbols can be seen everywhere. These shall attract luck and prosperity for the year to come.

Many people dress mainly in red coloured clothing for the festivities. Often people also buy new clothes to show that a fresh beginning is celebrated with the new year. In the Mandarin language, the word for ‘red’ has the same sound as the word for ‘prosperous’.

Chinese New Year Customs | What to do and what not to do

There are some rules when observing Chinese New Year. For example, scissors and brooms are banned to stay in the cupboards on the first day of Lunar New Year. These tools are considered to create bad luck for the year to come and brush away the good luck. So better keep scissors and knifes and brooms out of sight and out of action on this day!

Chinese Zodiac Signs

The Chinese distinguish between five types of each animal species in their zodiac according to the elements: fire, earth, metal, wood and water.

Chinese five elements

The Chinese zodiac signs will be combined with the five elements. There are five different specific animals such as the 'fire rooster' (2017) or the 'earth ox' (2009),  'metal/gold tiger' (2010), 'metal rat' (2020). 2021 was the year of the 'metal ox' and 2022 is the year of the 'water' tiger. 2023 is the year of the 'water rabbit'.

People are assigned a zodiac sign according to their year of their birth. And zodiac signs are said to show certain characteristics.

Special 'rabbit' characteristics would apply then for people born in the 'year of the rabbit': These people are considered as kind and alert, responsible and careful  but also a bit weak and unstable . Rabbits in general are considered hardworking and persistent. 'Rabbits' are also said to be intellectual and can be found in many professions.

How to be a Lucky Rabbit?

Some things are considered especially auspicious in the Year of the Rabbit. Among these are:

Are you or anybody in your family born in the year of the rabbit? The last 'rabbit' years were: 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975 or 1963.

Chinese New Year - Resources

Chinese New Year - Answer to question in section titled 'Chinese Calendar': 2024 will be the year of the Dragon.

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Chinese New Year Foods: Chinese Culture and Traditions Essay


Culture can be defined as the way of life of a given people. It entails how people behave and perceive different life issues. It includes aspects like religion, ethnicity, customs, language, beliefs, and food among others that define a people.

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Culture varies from one place to the other depending on the circumstances surrounding a place, for instance, climate and environment as well as how people perceive different things. Chinese culture is unique in its way and stands out distinctively among other cultures through different cultural aspects such as foods taken on different occasions.

This piece of work will give an in depth discussion of Chinese culture with the central focus being on the Chinese New Year Foods and its relationship with the changes that have been experienced in the Chinese Cultures. How the cultural production or cultural producer struggled to change the boundaries and meanings of what can be said or done will also be discussed.

To have a clear understanding of the concept in question, it is advisable to give some background information. Chinese New Year is a concept that has received a lot of concern among different people. It has been celebrated for more than 4000 years.

In China it was a holiday that was initially meant to mark the end of winter and the beginning of spring, which was deemed to be the start of a New Year (Flanagan, Zhurkina, & Labbo 7). It is one of the most significant holidays in Chinese traditions that is celebrated all over east and South-East-Asia.

A lot of importance is attached to this celebration to an extent of influencing the overall Chinese culture to a large extent. Most things done during this festive are clearly seen in carrying out of different Chinese cultural aspects.

What the Chinese New Year Foods reveal about the changing and contested nature of Chinese cultures and how this cultural production or cultural producer struggled to change the boundaries and meanings of what can be said or done

Chinese culture is a unique one. It is considered to be one of the world’s complex and oldest cultures. The Chinese culture is portrayed in a relatively large geographical region of eastern Asia.

Although there exists some differences in the customs and traditions among different cites, towns, and provinces some cultural aspects are usually maintained. These include traditional food, cultural celebrations, music, martial arts, literature, and visual arts among others (Davis 10).

Just like any other aspect, culture is subject to changes with passage of time. Although Chinese culture has been perceived by many to be static, the reality is that no one culture is absolutely static but rather undergoes some changes no matter how minor they may be.

The modern civilization that emerged from Europe and America is one of the factors that are linked with the changes in the Chinese culture. Modern Chinese culture has been invaded by other external cultures especially from Europe and the United States of America.

Over the past 20 years, the Peoples Republic of China has been observed to be adopting western culture and technology in a rapid rate. A good example to support this statement can be seen in their extensive acceptance of a lot of aspects such as cell phones, fast food as well as the American television (Kleinman & Tsung-Yi Lin 4).

The Chinese New Year’s festival has had a lot of influence on the Chinese culture as a whole. This is more so due to the significance that has been attached to this festival. This can even be seen through the number of days it is given on the lunar calendar as compared to other holidays.

Some of the beliefs associated with the Chinese New Year festival have been maintained up to date while others have undergone some changes over the years. The Chinese New Year festival or the spring festival is still the largest celebration in China.

Despite the fact that Chinese New Year occurs on dates that usually vary from between mid January to mid February, it is strictly observed among different Chinese populations.

During this time, people are involved with various activities, for instance, a thorough cleaning of houses to signify a new start and giving of the children money packaged in red envelopes as a sign of good luck and attainment of happiness in the coming year.

This occasion is also dedication in honour of the ancestors and activities such as fireworks and parades with dancers who are smartly dressed are common during this function.

The Chinese New Year festival is considered to be a significant part of China’s culture. As stated earlier, Chinese New Year is the most regarded festival in China and therefore it is highly celebrated not only in China but also in countries and territories with a considerable number of Chinese populations, for instance, Hong Kong, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, Tibet, Singapore, and Mainland China among others.

Among the reasons behind the aspect being considered to be Chinese and to form a large portion of the overall Chinese culture is the fact that it started in China, that is, it has its roots in china. Despite the fact that the Chinese New Year festival is celebrated in different parts of the world, its origin is in China.

Consequently, the festival is practiced mainly by the Chinese populations and it involves China’s cultural aspects including the foods that are prepared and served during this time. To show how important the festival is perceived in China, Chinese New Year is the longest holiday in the country’s calendar taking a total of 15days.

The Chinese New Year Foods is a significant element in the entire festival. Food is given noteworthy importance in the Chinese culture. Traditional Chinese food is prepared way before the beginning of the New Year since according to the Chinese culture, the people are not supposed to prepare and cook food within the first five days of the year.

This is however somehow tricky due to the fact that as opposed to other holidays that have some fixed calendar dates, the date of the Chinese New Year changes each and every year based on the lunar calendar. The Chinese people stay prepared at around this time to avoid any form of inconveniences.

Some of the traditional foods include savoury dumplings, nian gao also known as sweet sticky rice cake, turnip cakes, Yusheng, taro cakes, noodles, mandarin oranges, fish and Buddhas’s delight among others. All these foods offered during the Chinese New Year are extremely delicious and deemed crucial to the Chinese people. Each type of food carries along a symbolic significance.

For instance, serving a whole chicken during this festival is a sign of family togetherness. For this reason, all family members are expected to come together and celebrate in union. The noodles on the other hand are a sign of long life and should be prepared and served without cutting them.

The sweet steamed cakes also have a symbolic meaning. The sticky rice cake, for example, stand for a wealthy sweet life that is full of good things for the coming year. This is represented by its sweetness and layers (Chiu par 12).

Back from the early days, a lot of importance has been given to the traditional Chinese New Year food. They are for example taken as a symbol of opulence, good health, long life and good luck in general life for every individual who partake it.

Apart from offering physical satisfaction, the food is associated with some old Chinese beliefs that keep the Chinese people going to present moments. For instance, most of the foods are expected to wish the people good things in the coming year.

The Chinese cultures are portrayed by the different activities that the people engage in. Research shows that even though some concepts have been maintained to today, there are some cultural changes that are quite evident. This can even be seen through the Chinese New year Foods.

These changes can be attributed to changes in times and cultural beliefs about some issues due to exposure, for instance, through technological innovations and developments. Gleason (12) asserts that years ago, on the New Year’s eve, Chinese people would take baths with mint leaves in the water with the believe that this practice would make them superfluously clean.

It was as well believed that it was not right to wash during the New Year’s Day since by doing so people would wash away their good luck for the coming year. Although some of these beliefs still stand among some individuals, there are some other cultural aspects that have been adopted in today’s world among the Chinese people.

For instance, there is a tendency of many people getting their haircut and buying of new clothes before or on the eve of the New Year’s Day as a sign of being fresh and leaving the past. Colour red is preferred by many for the clothing due to the fact that it is associated with happiness and thus it was believed that putting them on the New Year’s Day would bring happiness to the people throughout the following year.

It is also a belief that change of appearance through new haircuts and clothes is a way that is expected to put off the evil spirits that disturbed them in the past year as they would not recognize who they were, after the change.

Another issue that is linked with the Chinese New Year festival and culture is the fact that people have believed that they ought to do away with or finish everything that had been started over the past year.

For instance, people are expected to pay back any money they owe others as well as settle any form of discrepancies that could exist between their families and friends before the begging of the New Year. The children are also expected to catch up on their schoolwork.

In a nutshell, the Chinese culture requires that everything should be in a perfect condition for New Year’s Day in an effort to make the coming year a success; filled with good things (Gleason 13).

Looking at the Chinese New Year ceremony and all the issues that surround it, including the food taken and the significance attached to them, it is clear that it has played a great role in shaping the overall Chinese culture. There are various do’s and don’ts that are stipulated in regard to this ceremony with respect to what ought to bring good luck to the people and what could be a source of bad luck in the coming year.

The Chinese New Year celebration stipulates what is supposed to be done and said among the Chinese population all over the world not only during this season but also under normal circumstances, for instance, when doing business.

Amazingly, the practices of the Chinese New Year have been seen to influence the overall Chinese culture in many ways. One good example is on the changing culture and etiquette. From the Chinese New Year festivals, a lot of cultural aspects can be learnt most of which affect how the Chinese people behave and how they expect those they come across, irrespective of their origin, to behave.

The understanding of several key cultural concepts associated with the Chinese culture is helpful in carrying out both individual as well as business related activities in China. It is therefore advisable to have some basic knowledge of the socio-cultural, historical, political, and economic situation in China before entering the country for any purpose.

The cultural differences are also essential. They include the verbal and non verbal communication styles and the issues surrounding the Chinese etiquette, for instance, proper banquet behaviour and giving of gifts. All these aspects can be drawn from the Chinese New Year festival and hence its importance in the overall Chinese culture.

From the above discussion, it is evident that the Chinese New Year food and the entire festival have an extremely critical part to play in the cultures in China. This is more so because a lot of importance is attached to this issue and a lot of activities are done in preparation to the big day and it is celebrated for a relatively long period of time (15 days) as compared to other holidays.

Over the past decade, there are some cultural traditional concepts that have been maintained year after year while some concepts and beliefs have changed for the best of the communities. All in all, a great percentage of the cultural concepts that were present long before have been maintained up to today; an aspect that contributes much to the value that is attached to the Chinese New Year festival.

However, it is clear that no single culture in the world is absolutely static but rather it undergoes some changes no matter how minor they may be. China’s culture is therefore not an exception and it has experienced a revolutionary rate of change.

External factors play a great role in facilitating cultural change in different parts of the world, for instance, expansion of international trade and mass media as well as massive human population increase.

Works Cited

Chiu, Lisa. “The History of Chinese New Year.” . 2011. 19 Oct. 2011. < >

Davis, Edward, Lawrence. Encyclopaedia of contemporary Chinese culture. New York: Taylor & Francis, 2005. Print

Flanagan, Alice., Zhurkina, Svetlana., & Labbo Linda. Chinese New Year . Minneapolis, MN: Compass Point Books, 2003. Print

Gleason, Carrie. Chinese New Year . New York: Crabtree Publishing Company, 2008. Print

Kleinman, Arthur., & Tsung-Yi Lin. Normal and Abnormal Behaviour in Chinese Culture. New York: Springer, 1981. Print

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