Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) is the most important festival in China and a major event in other Asian countries. Chinese Lunar New Year 2024 will fall on Feb 10th. Here are 15 interesting facts about Chinese New Year.
1. Chinese New Year 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.
2. It is a festival for 1/4 of the world's population.
Over 2 billion people celebrate Chinese New Year in some way, even if it's just a national acknowledgment.
These countries have public holidays during Chinese New Year: China, Indonesia, The Philippines, Vietnam, South Korea, Malaysia, North Korea, Singapore, and Brunei.
More and more Western cities celebrate this festival in recent years, like New York, London, Vancouver, and Sydney.
3. 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 and is determined by the Chinese lunar calendar. In 2024, Chinese New Year will fall on Feb 10th. See more about Chinese New Year Dates.
4. 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. 2024 is a year of the Dragon.
Your zodiac animal is decided by your birth year. Find out your Chinese Zodiac sign.
5. The festival is celebrated for 16 days till the Lantern Festival.
On the evening of the 15th day of the first lunar month, 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.
6. This period is a time to offer sacrifices to Gods and ancestors.
Praying is one of the more important activities during Chinese New Year. People pray to gods and ancestors. Many Chinese people visit ancestors' graves on the day before the Chinese New Year's day, and offer sacrifices to ancestors before the reunion dinner
7. On Chinese New Year's Eve, people eat auspicious foods.
Certain foods are eaten during the Chinese New Year period purely for their symbolic meaning.
This includes dumplings, eaten because they represent wealth. The more dumplings you can eat, the more money you will make in the new year. Fish is eaten because the word for fish in Chinese, (鱼 Yú /yoo/) sounds like 'surplus'.
Oranges and tangerines are displayed because they are believe to bring good luck and fortune due to their pronunciation and characters.
8. 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).
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.
And today many of these red envelopes are given electronically, something that can be done through WeChat, China's most popular communications app.
See more information about how much money goes inside and how to give.
9. Red decorations are everywhere during the Chinese New Year.
You might know that red is a lucky color in China, representing many positive things such as happiness, beauty, vitality, good luck, success, and good fortune, but did you know that almost everything is red during Chinese New Year?
Apart from the red envelopes, decorations, and spring couplets hung up outside people's homes are red. You'll also see lanterns everywhere, as well as red paper cuttings. See the Top 7 Decorations during Chinese New Year.
10. The festival causes the world's largest annual migration.
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 people from Chinese mainland 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. This makes CNY 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.
11. And the New Year's Eve Gala is the world's most-watched TV show.
On Chinese New Year's Eve, most of China tunes in to watch the New Year's Eve Gala on the national television.
This TV show involves many Chinese celebrities performing songs and dances and is watched as a family together, in a similar way that families might watch the ball dropping on New York's Times Square in the USA.
Watching it is a great way to get an introduction to many types of Chinese performance arts.
12. Washing, sweeping, or taking out the garbage are not allowed.
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.
Giving people pears or mirrors as gifts is also taboo. See more Chinese New Year taboos.
13. There is the world's biggest annual fireworks usage during Chinese New Year.
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.
Fireworks are used to scare evil spirits: Most people from Chinese mainland believe that the flash and bang of firecrackers and fireworks scare away demons and evil ghosts.
As a result of pollution and safety issues, many of China's big cities have banned people from setting off their own fireworks within the city or within certain parameters of the city. Local governments set up their own beautiful displays. Read more on why Chinese New Year Must Have Firecrackers.
14. Kids love the holiday.
Kids love the holiday, because they get a month off of school, new clothes to wear, and receive red envelopes.
It is believed that wearing new clothes can bring fortune and health, so parents will buy new clothes for their kids, which they wear for the reunion dinner on Chinese New Year's Eve.
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 (almost 1,500 USD!).
Read more about Chinese New Year for Kids.
15. But it can be tough for some: "old" singles hire fake boy/girlfriends to take home.
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.