Chinese Spring Festival

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Author : travelchinaguide
Update time : 2020-01-13 13:27:36

Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, is the grandest festival in China, with a 7-day long holiday. As the most colorful annual event, the traditional CNY celebration lasts longer, up to two weeks, and the climax arrives around the Lunar New Year's Eve.

China during this period is dominated by iconic red lanterns, loud fireworks, massive banquets and parades, and the festival even triggers exuberant celebrations across the globe.

2020 – The Year of the Rat


In 2020 Chinese New Year festival falls on Jan. 25. It is the Year of the Rat according to the Chinese zodiac, which features a 12-year cycle with each year represented by a specific animal. People born in the Years of the Rat including 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, and 2008 will experience their Zodiac Year of Birth (Ben Ming Nian).


Time for Family Reunion


Like Christmas in Western countries, Chinese New Year is a time to be home with family, chatting, drinking, cooking, and enjoying a hearty meal together.

 10 Facts You Should Know about Chinese New Year


2020 Chinese New Year Calendar

When is Chinese New Year?


Unlike the universal New Year observed on January 1st, Chinese New Year is never on a fixed date. The dates vary according to Chinese lunar calendar, but generally fall on a day between January 21st and February 20th in the Gregorian calendar.
How long is the festival? Most people in China have at least seven days off work, including three days' legal holiday, and the preceding and following weekends. Here's a CNY timetable for recent years, marked in UTC/GMT+08:00.
  Chinese New Year 2020: Dates & Calendar
Year Date Day Holiday
2019 Feb. 5 Tuesday Feb. 4 - 10
2020 Jan. 25 Saturday Jan. 24 - 30
2021 Feb. 12 Friday Feb. 11 - 17
2022 Feb. 1 Tuesday Jan. 31 - Feb. 6
2023 Jan. 22 Sunday Jan. 21 - 27


Why is it called Spring Festival?


The festival date is in January or February, around the Chinese solar term the 'Beginning of Spring', so it is also named the 'Spring Festival'.


How do Chinese people celebrate the festival? – Customs & Activities


When all streets and lanes are decorated with vibrant red lanterns and colorful lights, the Lunar New Year is approaching. What do Chinese people do then? After half a month's busy time with a house spring-clean and holiday shopping, the festivities kick off on the New Year's Eve, and last 15 days, until the full moon arrives with the Lantern Festival. Scroll down and let's look through the core traditions and practices of the Chinese New Year.


House Cleaning and Decorating – half month before


New Year DecorationNo matter whether in a city apartment or a countryside villa, there must be a diligent housewife exerting all her energies to carry out a thorough clean of the house before Chinese New Year. Sweeping, mopping, wiping, washing… Sometimes the whole family needs to give a hand with the chores, to make sure the house is rid of the old year's dust and is prepared for taking in the fortune of the New Year. Then every house is decorated with the most favored color, the bright Red – red lanterns, Chinese knots, Spring Festival couplets, 'Fu' character pictures, and red window paper-cuts. Read more about How to Decorate for Chinese New Year.


Family Reunion Dinner – New Year's Eve


Family Reunion DinnerHome is the principal focus of the Spring Festival. All Chinese people manage to make their way home at the latest by New Year's Eve, for a reunion dinner with the whole family. The essential course on all Chinese menus for a reunion dinner will be a steamed or braised whole fish, representing a surplus every year. Various kinds of meat, vegetable, and seafood are made into dishes with auspicious meanings. Dumplings are indispensable for northerners, while rice cakes for southerners. The night is spent enjoying this feast along with cheerful family talk and laughter. Read more Chinese New Year Foods.


Giving Red Envelopes – Best Wishes through Money


Red EnvelopesFrom newborn babies to teenagers, luck money will be given by seniors, wrapped in red packets in the hope of dispelling evil spirits from the kids. CNY 100 to 500 notes are commonly sealed in a red envelope, while there are big ones with up to CNY 5,000 especially in the rich southeast regions. Besides a small disposable amount, most of the money is used to buy the kids toys, snacks, clothes, stationery, or saved for their future educational expenditure. Read more about Red Envelope.


Send Greetings and Red Envelopes through Wechat


Greetings and Red Envelopes through WechatWith the popularity of instant messaging apps, greeting cards are seldom seen. From the morning to the midnight of the New Year's Eve, people use the app Wechat to send various text messages, voice messages, and emojis, some of which featuring the New Year's animal sign, to exchange greetings and good wishes. Digital red envelopes are becoming considerably popular and a big red envelope in a group chat always starts a happy grabbing game.


Watching CCTV New Year's Gala – 20:00 to 0:30


CCTV New Year's GalaIt is undeniable that the CCTV New Year's Gala is China's most watched television special, despite the declining viewership in recent years. The 4.5-hour live broadcast features music, dance, comedy, opera, and acrobatic performances. Although the audience becomes more and more critical of the programs, that never stops people turning on the TV on time. The delightful songs and words act as a habitual background to a reunion dinner, for after all it's been a tradition ever since 1983.


Setting off Firecrackers at 0:00


Firework ShowThere is New Year bell on the TV gala at 0:00, but you can hardly hear it since there would be loud bangs of firecrackers, from 0:00 to 0:30 and even later. Chinese people have by long tradition set off firecrackers, originally to scare away the legendary monster Nian which emerges at midnight. In recent years, many urban areas have a firecracker ban or set special area or period for fireworks, to prevent accidents and threats to air quality.


Half-month Visiting Relatives – from One Family to Another


Visiting RelativesAfter a day at home, people start to visit relatives from the second day of the New Year. The married couples go to visit the wife's parents' home on the second day. The following days will be spent in various relatives' houses. For some extended families in rural areas, half a month is barely enough to visit everyone. People bring gifts to one another's homes and give red envelopes to the kids. That's a ritual. Get inspired by more Chinese New Year Gift Ideas.


Folk Shows and Temple Fairs – Lasting to 15th day of 1st lunar month


Folk Shows during Chinese New YearIn urban areas, there are bustling temple fairs with religious worship, costume performances, games, and local snacks. Some locations have lantern fairs, offering great night fun. In rural areas, more authentic folk shows are likely to be seen, including the yangko dance and stilt walking in north China and dragon and lion dances prevailing in southern regions. See Best Temple Fairs in Beijing.