Chinese New Year or also known as Lunar New Year is the biggest holiday for Chinese people. The celebration lasts for 15 days, which starts with the first new moon of each calendar year and ends on the full moon. This year, Chinese New Year starts on January 28th. In China and Taiwan, offices and schools close for a week.
Chinese people believe that a good start to the year will lead to a lucky year. Also important at this time is remembering and paying respects to the ancestors to earn favors and good fortune for the new year. The heart of the story is that we remember the past but leave the year behind, focusing on the possibilities of tomorrow.
Nowadays, Chinese New Year becomes an exciting celebration, not only for Chinese but people around the world. These are 10 things you need to know about Chinese New Year:
- Homes are cleaned top to bottom before the beginning of the new year, and all cleaning equipment is put away before New Year’s Eve because it’s believed that good fortune may be swept away if cleaning is done on New Year’s Day.
- Cleaning also means settling all your unfinished business to start fresh for the new year. If you borrowed money from family or friends last year, pay them back before the start of the Chinese New Year; any outstanding loans will bring you misfortune. The same goes for unresolved arguments or grudges, so maintain good relationships with others.
- Food is a big part of Chinese New Year celebrations, and many meals are eaten with family and friends. Most of the Chinese people come home to celebrate the festival with their families. The New Year’s Eve dinner is called “reunion dinner”, and is believed to be the most important meal of the year.
- Chinese New Year is also the time to focus on ancestors and family members who have passed away. On New Year’s Eve, a dinner for ancestors is arranged at the family banquet table, so that all family members, deceased and living, can ring in the new year with a communal feast. On the second day, the Chinese pray to both their ancestors and to all of the gods.
- Red is a key colour for New Year’s celebrations, as it symbolizes a bright and happy future. People wear red clothing during the festivities, and children, unmarried friends, and close relatives are given little red envelopes with money inside for good luck.
- Traditional Chinese dance that is performed on big occasions, the lion dance, becoming the main attraction of Chinese New Year in public places. Having a lion grace your premises, and presenting it with red packets filled with money, is said to bring you luck for the rest of the year. The lion dance is an excellent example of Chinese folk culture, which has spread across the world with Chinese immigration.
- Firecrackers are set off on New Year’s Eve to send out the old year and welcome in the new.
- On day seven, farmers display their harvest and make a celebratory drink from seven types of vegetables. As day two is considered the birthday of dogs, day seven is the birthday of human beings, and long noodles (for longevity) and raw fish (for success) are eaten as part of the celebrations.
- On days 10 through 12, friends and relatives receive dinner invitations. That means that on the 13th day, people eat rice congee and mustard greens to recover from days of rich meals.
- The 14th day is spent getting ready for the Lantern Festival on the 15th night. On the fifteenth day, when the moon is full, the Lantern Festival is held. As part of the festivities, children carry lanterns in a nighttime parade.