Chinese New Year (Spring Festival)
2016 Chinese New Year falls on February 8. It is the Year of the Monkey according to Chinese zodiac. It will be a great chance to experience the traditional folk customs!
|Writing Festival Couplets|
Learn more Spring Festival Facts.
New Year Dates
It comes on the first day of the lunar calendar and lasts for almost half of a month. But in folk custom, this traditional holiday lasts from the 23rd day of the twelfth month to the 15th day of the first month (Lantern Festival) in the lunar calendar. Among these days, the Eve and the first day Spring Festival holiday is the peak time. The exact days are different in every year according to the lunar calendar. Schedule details in recent years are offered in the following table.
|2014||January 31||January 31 - February 6||Horse|
|2015||February 19||February 18 - 24||Sheep|
|2016||February 8||February 7 - 13||Monkey|
|2017||January 28||January 27 - February 2||Rooster|
|2018||February 16||February 15 - 21||Dog|
|2019||February 5||February 4 - 6||Pig|
|2020||January 25||January 24 - 30||Rat|
|Couplets and Decorations|
There are many legends about the Spring Festival. In folk culture, it is also called “guonian” (meaning “passing a year”). It is said that the “nian” (year) was a strong monster which was fierce and cruel and ate one kind of animal including human being a day. Human beings were scared about it and had to hide on the evening when the “nian” came out. Later, people found that “nian” was very scared about the red color and fireworks. So after that, people use red color and fireworks or firecrackers to drive away “nian”. As a result, the custom of using red color and setting off fireworks remains.
The preparation starts 7 days before the New Year’s Eve. According to the lunar calendar, people start to clean the house on Dec. 24, butcher on Dec. 26th and so on. People have certain things to do on each day. These activities will end Jan. 15th of the lunar calendar.
Customs and Activities
|Paper Cut of Character 'Fu' Meaning |
Happiness and 'Feng' Meaning Harvest
Every family does a thorough house cleaning and purchases enough food, including fish, meat, roasted nuts and seeds, all kinds of candies and fruits, etc, for the festival period. Also, new clothes must be bought, especially for children. Red scrolls with complementary poetic couplets, one line on each side of the gate, are pasted at every gate. The Chinese character 'Fu' is pasted on the center of the door and paper-cut pictures adorn windows. People will also give red envelopes to kids and elders to share the blessing.
Ten Traditions You Don't Know
New practices and activities take place in Chinese New Year experience as some old traditions fade away. The train and bus tickets can be scarcely purchased during the Spring Festival Travel Rush; newlyweds squabble over whose home to go; bachelors are so anxious and stressed that they rent a fake girlfriend home; socializing by phones are highly welcomed.
As a start for a new year, it is regarded as the omen of a year. People have many taboos during this period. Many bad words related to “death”, “broken”, “killing”, “ghost” and “illness” or “sickness” are forbidden during conversations. In some places, there are more specific details. They consider it unlucky if the barrel of rice is empty, because they think they will have nothing to eat in the next year. Taking medicine is forbidden on this day, otherwise, people will have sick for the whole year and take medicine constantly.
Giving presents is an old tradition of Spring Festival. People will prepare gifts when visiting parents, parents-in-law, relatives and friends. Towards different receivers, the gifts are supposed to be selected cautiously. In general, alcohol, cigarettes, tea and fruits are safe choices, while items like sharp object, shoes, umbrella and clock should be avoided.
See Ten Gifts to be Avoided
|Dumplings, Traditional Food of Spring Festival |
Learn to Make Dumplings
Best Places to Go
In China, different places have their own traditions and activities to celebrate this grand festival. Beijing, Guangzhou, Xian and Pingyao are some good places to go if one intends to come during the time period. If one does not want to travel so long, but still want to enjoy the festival's atmosphere, the local Chinatown is the best place.
New Year Greetings in Chinese
- Best Wishes
- Happy New Year!
- Welcome to China!
2015 / 2016 / 2017 Public Holiday Calendar is available for you to know the schedule of all holidays in China and better make your travel plan.
Spring Festival Travel Rush happens over one month around the festival when China faces an extremely high traffic load, especially on the railway services.
Chinese Zodiac: Every lunar year in China is related to an animal sign according to the zodiac system - rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.