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10 Interesting Facts about Chinese New Year

Chinese New YearChinese New Year is the most important festival in China. 

Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) is a major holiday in not just China but also other countries in Asia. Here are 10 interesting facts about this important and popular holiday.

1. The Chinese New Year date changes each year!

The date for Chinese New Year changes each year. It always falls between January 21 and February 20, determined by the Chinese lunar calendar. Chinese New Year 2019 is on Tuesday February 5

See why the festival date changes on our page Chinese New Year Dates.

2. The holiday is also called "Spring Festival".

Though in winter, Chinese call their New Year holidays 'Spring Festival' (春节 chūnjié /chwnn-jyeah/), because 'Start of Spring' (4–18 February) is the first of the terms in the traditional solar calendar. While wintry weather prevails, 'Start of Spring' marks the end of the coldest part of winter, when the Chinese traditionally could look forward to the beginning of spring.

Chinese zodiacr

3. Every Chinese New Year starts a new animal's zodiac year.

There are 12 Chinese zodiac animals. In order, the 12 animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. 2019 is a year of the Pig.

Your zodiac animal is decided by your birth year. Find our your Chinese Zodiac sign.

4. The festival is celebrated for 16 days till the Lantern Festival.

Lanterns for the Lantern Festival Lanterns for the Lantern Festival

Traditionally, the 16 days from New Year's Eve until the Lantern Festival each had a special celebration activity.

In the evening of 15th day of the first lunar month (February 19, 2019), on the night of the full moon, families gather for dinner and go out and see fireworks and light lanterns. Lanterns are put up for decoration, let loose to fly, and floated in rivers.

5. Billions of red envelopes are exchanged.

Chinese people love the color red. Giving red envelopes is a way to send good wishes and luck (as well as money). 

Chinese New Year red envelopes (Chinese New Year red envelopes ("hong bao")

Red envelopes are given out from older to younger, from bosses to employees, and from leaders to underlings. It is a special New Year's bonus.

See more information about How much money goes inside and how to give.

6. It is a festival for 1/4 of the world's population.

The world’s population will be 7.7 billion for Spring Festival 2019, and over 2 billion celebrate it in some way, even if it’s just a national acknowledgement.

These countries have public holidays: Mainland China (1.41 billion), Hong Kong (7M), and Macau (0.6M), and nine other Asian countries — Indonesia (264M), The Philippines (105M), Vietnam (95M), South Korea (51M), Malaysia (31M), North Korea (25M), Taiwan (23M), Singapore (5M), and Brunei (0.4M).

That is already 2017 million, so with the sizable Chinese, Vietnamese, etc. populations who celebrate in cities like New York, London, Vancouver, and Sydney, there will be over 2019 million people who acknowledge the festival in 2019.

7. The festival causes the world’s largest annual migration.

Busy train station A crowded Chinese train station at New Year

For Chinese people, the most important part of the Chinese Spring Festival is to enjoy a reunion dinner with their families on New Year's Eve, even if they have to travel long distances.

200 million Mainland Chinese travel long distances for these holidays, and it is estimated that there are 3.5 billion journeys in China. Tens of millions of people travel in other countries too. It makes the largest annual human migration in the world, known as the Spring Festival Travel Rush.

For comparison, less than 100 million people travel more than 50 miles during the Christmas holidays in the US according to the American Automobile Association.

8. Washing, sweeping, or taking out the garbage are not allowed.

Chinese New YearHouse-cleaning must be done before Chinese New Year.

During the Chinese New Year period, there are many superstitions.

Washing hair or clothes is not allowed on the first day of the lunar year because it is seen as “washing one’s fortune away” at the beginning of the year. Sweeping up and taking out the garbage symbolize removing the good luck from the house, so people don’t do that either.

See more Chinese New Year taboos.

9. There is the world's biggest annual fireworks usage.

chinese new year fireworksHong Kong blazes with fireworks and lights dance on the buildings.

Another for our facts about Chinese New Year, no single hour in any other country sees as many tons of fireworks lighted as in China around the midnight beginning Chinese New Year. China produces about 90% of the world's fireworks!

Fireworks are used to scare evil spirits: Most mainland Chinese believe that the flash and bang of firecrackers and fireworks scare away demons and evil ghosts.

Read more on the Why Chinese New Year Must Have Firecrackers

10. Singles hire fake boy/girlfriends to take home.

Chinese New YearChinese New Year is hard going for "old" singles!!

This is a fresh-new fact about Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year is a joyful time for most, but for singles above the normal matrimonial age it's not. In China, females are said to be marriageable up to 30, and males before 32.

For “old” singles, parents are extremely anxious. So New Year's Eve stress is heightened by embarrassing interrogations of the singles. Desperate parents even arrange dating (prospective marriages) for their single children.

To solve this problem an interesting, and often ridiculous, solution has appeared — renting a boyfriend or girlfriend for the New Year. There are websites and agents specialized in this business. The price is about 100 yuan (16 USD) a day.

Fun Facts about Chinese New Year for Kids

For children, Spring Festival in China means a more-than-one-month vacation.

Kids get new clothes to wear.

It is believed that wearing new clothes can bring fortune and health, so parents buy new clothes for their kids, which they wear for the reunion dinner on New Year’s Eve.

Every kid is busy receiving red envelopes.Every kid is busy receiving red envelopes.

Every kid is busy receiving red envelopes.

Red envelopes within lucky money are traditional gifts for children during the Chinese New Year period. Children receive red envelopes from parents, older relatives, and visitors. Every kid has a chance to "get rich". Some kids receive over 10,000 yuan!

They can eat various delicious foods.

Food is an inseparable part of the festival. Every family prepare various foods that children love, including fruits, candies, and snacks. They can eat not only at home but also at relatives’ places.

Learn more on Chinese New Year for Kids: 7 Types of Fun.

Touring China at Chinese New Year

Celebrate Chinese New Year like locals with China HighlightsCelebrate Chinese New Year like locals with China Highlights.

Chinese New Year is a great time to come to China to experience the festivities and China’s winter. However, it’s by far the busiest period transport-wise in China, especially up to a few days before Chinese New Year and from around 8 days after. Book your tour as early as possible.

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