10 Facts About Chinese New Year You Should Know
Looking for facts about Chinese New Year?
While most of the world celebrates the New Year in January, there’s still a New Year’s celebration that is right around the corner.
All over the world, but especially in China and surrounding Asian countries, Chinese New Year will be celebrated on February 12th.
For those of you who might not know about this major holiday, we’ve compiled a list of 10 Chinese New Year facts that everyone should know.
1. The date for Chinese New Year changes every year
One of the most important facts about Chinese New Year is that unlike western countries which only use the solar (Gregorian) calendar, China still uses the Lunar calendar for many major holidays and even birthdays.
Since Chinese New Year is determined by the Lunar calendar, there is no set date for this holiday.
Each year will use a different date, but the holiday usually falls somewhere between mid-January and mid-February.
For 2021, Chinese New Year falls on February 12th.
2. Chinese New Year has different names
Since Chinese New Year follows the Lunar calendar, it’s also called the Lunar New Year, especially in countries like Korea (North and South) and Vietnam.
For Chinese-speaking countries like China, Taiwan, and Malaysia, Chinese New Year is also referred to as the Spring Festival (chunjie / 春节).
This is because the festival falls at a time that is considered to be the end of the coldest days and the beginning of the transition into spring.
The New Year is all about fresh starts, so it’s fitting that it aligns with the new harvests of spring.
3. Each year is represented by one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac
While the 12 signs in the Western zodiac are based off the months in a year, the Chinese zodiac uses 12 animals, which represent individual years.
The Chinese zodiac follows a 12 year cycle starting with the Rat and ending with the Pig.
Since 2020 was the Year of the Rat, 2021 will be the Year of the Ox.
Each animal is associated with different personality traits, similarly to how each sign of the Western zodiac is associated with their specific personality traits.
The Chinese zodiac actually plays a large role in Chinese culture and can be considered as an indicator for compatibility, health, and career success.
4. Chinese New Year is considered the longest public holiday in China
Since the celebration lasts for a whopping 15 days (ending with the Lantern Festival), most of the country will get a long vacation from either work or school.
Depending on where you work, you could get anywhere from 7-12 days off! For students, it’s even longer with the average being a month off for vacation.
5. The largest migration in the world happens because of Chinese New Year
Because of the long holiday, most people travel back to their hometowns to spend the Chinese New Year with their families.
Since a lot of the older generation still lives in rural areas, younger generations will make the trip from the more metropolitan areas.
This migration is called Spring Migration (chunyun / 春运) and every year, there is a scramble to get train tickets home as you can only reserve them 60 days before.
6. Chinese New Year is a time to pray to Gods and ward off evil monsters
Originally, Chinese New Year was a special day to pray to the gods for a good harvest. However, a lot of people also pray to their ancestors who were considered as sort of gods themselves.
On the flip side, the Spring Festival was also a time to ward off monsters. There is one legend about a monster named Nian (年). The legend states that Nian would come ever New Year.
While most people would just hide, there was one courageous boy who decided to use firecrackers to scare Nian off.
It worked, which is why people now set off lots of fireworks during the Spring Festival.
7. The largest amount of fireworks in the world are set off during Chinese New Year
Because of the legend of Nian, the tradition of setting off fireworks has become an important pillar of Chinese New Year.
Although it was deemed illegal for some years, the setting off of fireworks can be seen all across China during the festival.
While the majority of it happens over the course of three days, in some areas, the sounds of the firework explosions can be heard for a whole week!
8. Red is used for all the decorations
The color red is considered a symbol of luck and wealth and can also be used to ward off evil spirits and monsters. That’s why red is used for all the decorations during Chinese New Year.
Whether it’s clothes, lanterns, or even envelopes, everything is red. This is probably one of the most known facts about Chinese New Year
9. Red envelopes filled with money are given out
Thought to be a way to transfer wealth from elders to the younger generation, money is placed into red envelopes and given to children.
This lucky money isn’t only given to children. Friends, coworkers, and other family members exchange red envelopes with each other to wish good fortune on one another.
While physical envelopes are still the way to go, e-envelopes have also gained popularity. In today’s world, you can now send an electronic red envelope through your phone or email.
10. There are some taboo things you should NOT do during Chinese New Year
Since the Spring Festival is all about good fortune and luck, there are some things that are not allowed as they are thought to be getting rid of all the good luck.
These include showering, sweeping, and throwing away any garbage.
However, there is a day for sweeping and cleaning to make room for the good luck that occurs before the Spring Festival.
Out with the bad, and in with the good!
Chinese New Year Facts!
Now you know some facts about Chinese New Year, check out our post with 130 Chinese New Year Greetings, Wishes and Blessings!
If you’re deciding to visit China or any country that celebrates Lunar New Year, this list should help you know what to expect.
And even if you’re not, you can always find the nearest Chinatown in your city and have another excuse to celebrate the new year!
Do you want to add any Chinese New Year facts that you feel are important? Let us know in the comments!