This year the Chinese New Year (or Lunar New Year) begins on January 25th, 2020. But, did you know that the holiday has been the most widely celebrated holiday in the world for over 1000 years? The holiday is associated with many interesting legends and customs, honoring deities and ancestors, prayers, offerings, and other acts of worship. Read on to find out 10 things you didn’t know about Chinese New Year.
Interesting Facts About Lunar New Year
1. It’s also commonly known as the Spring Festival
Because the holiday marks the end of the coldest days in the winter solstice, you’ll often hear it referred to as the Spring Festival, or chunjie, in China. People embrace the spring and its many delights, like planting and harvests and the symbol of new beginnings.
2. Chinese New Year never falls on a fixed date
The Chinese New Year holiday follows the Lunar calendar, which is based on how long it takes the Moon to orbit the Earth. As a result, this means that the date for Chinese New Year is all over the place. Unlike western holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas which always fall on the same day.
3. It’s the night where the most fireworks are set off
Following a myth that firecrackers supposedly scare off monsters and bad luck, this is the night where the most fireworks and firecrackers are set off in China more than anywhere else in the world. Moreover, people who celebrate the holiday will stay up on Chinese New Year’s Eve and set off firecrackers at midnight. Then, again in the morning to welcome the new year and bring good luck.
4. It’s the longest Chinese holiday
The Chinese New Year is technically 15 days. However, celebrations start on New Year’s Eve (making it 16 days). Some say that the holiday season starts in (lunar) December which is around 40 days of celebrations!
5. Singles hire ‘partners’ to take home to meet the family for Chinese New Year
You know those nosy relatives who interrogate you every family gathering? Well, it’s even worse in China. You can imagine why, with one of the most important parts in Chinese culture being conceiving a child and passing down the family name.
6. Showering, sweeping or throwing out garbage is forbidden!
To ensure you don’t wash away any good luck, showering isn’t allowed on New Year’s Day and sweeping and throwing out garbage is forbidden before the 5th. There is also a day before the Spring Festival that’s dedicated to cleaning, to get rid of the bad luck and make room for the good.
7. Dumplings, dumplings and more dumplings
We hope you like dumplings, because technically you’re supposed to be eating them for every meal, every day. However, people don’t usually do this anymore though because even eating delicious food over and over again becomes too much.
Here’s a great dumpling recipe if you’d like to try it out!
8. Red is the new black during Chinese New Year
Did you know that the Chinese decorate for The Chinese New Year? Each family deck their houses in everything red. This is because it is believed that the color red will scare away monsters.
9. You grow 1 year older on the Spring Festival
In China, everyone has a “real” age and a “fake” nominal age. Your real age is the one we all know about, the one when you grow one year older on your birthday. The fake nominal age though increases with each Spring Festival.
10. Chinese New Year finishes with the Lantern Festival
The first full moon of the (lunar) year is the Yuanxiao Festival or the Lantern Festival, or simply known as the Chinese Valentine’s Day. Though family and respect is still important, it’s considered a night of partying and freedom.
Gift Ideas for The Chinese New Year
Sending gifts (or even better, money) in red envelopes is a great gift idea as the red color of the envelope symbolizes good luck and is thought to ward off evil spirits. The elders usually give red envelope filled with “pocket money” to unmarried juniors to wish them luck for the new year.
Additionally, if the gift receiver smokes, prepare two cartons of cigarettes yourself, using the brands they like. A packet of cigarettes you can buy anywhere is considered improper.
Tea is one of the most popular drinks in China. For this gift, prepare two boxes of tea leaves in a neat package.
Fruit is a safe option for a Chinese New Year gift idea. You can gift apples or oranges in boxes. However, avoid gifting pears.
If the person receiving the gift likes drinking, you can get fine wine as the Chinese New Year gift. Liquor is typically gifted in pairs (two bottles).