Chinese New Year ( Spring Festival 春节)| 4 min read

Chinese Spring Festival, also called ‘Lunar New Year’, has more than 4,000 years of history. Being one of the traditional Chinese festivals, it is the grandest and the most important festival for Chinese people. It is also the time for all of the family members to get together, which is similar to Christmas Day to the Westerners.

This holiday can be traced back to Shang Dynasty (about 17th – 11th century B.C.). During the Spring Festival, which celebrates family reunion, is full of rich and colorful activities and hopes with the advent of spring and flowers blossoming. People from different regions and different ethnic groups celebrate it in their unique ways. It comes on the first day of Chinese lunar calendar and lasts for almost half a month. But in folk custom, this traditional holiday lasts from the 23rd day of the 12th month to the 15th day of the first month (Lantern Festival 元宵节Yuánxiāo jié) in the lunar calendar. Among these days, the New Year’s Eve and the first day of the New Year – which is the peak time. The exact days are different in every year according to the lunar calendar.


Time to Learn Some Festive Popular Greetings in Mandarin!

  • Xīnnián kuàilè (新年快乐) : Happy New Year!
  • Xīnnián hǎo (新年好): Happy New Year!
  • Guònián hǎo(过年好): Happy New Year!
  • Dàjí dàlì(大吉大利): Lots of luck and profits
  • Gōngxǐ fācái (恭喜发财): Happiness and prosperity (use this when receiving gifts or lucky money)
  • Chuyi (初一) : The very first day of the new year, Chinese New Year’s Day
  • Chuxi (除夕) : The last day of the previous year, Chinese New Year’s Eve
  •  Yuánxiāo jié (元宵节) : The fifteenth day of the first month; there will be lanterns displayed everywhere across China!



Chinese New Year Celebration Lasts More Than Three Weeks 

Preparing the New Year starts 7 days before the New Year’s Eve. According to Chinese 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.


Interesting Story behind Spring Festival

There are many legends about Spring Festival in Chinese culture. In folk culture, it is also called “guonian过年” (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 every 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 of the color ‘red’ 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.


Customs & Practices

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福’ and/or ‘Chun春’  is pasted on the center of the door and paper-cut pictures adorn windows.


The Spring Festival is a start for a new year, so 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 following year. Taking medicine is forbidden on this day, otherwise, people think that they will be sick for the whole year and need to take medicine constantly.

Rachel Yoon

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