Chinese New Year

What is the Chinese New Year?

The Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival, is a celebration of the new year according to the Chinese calendar. It is the most important and widely celebrated festival of all in China and lasts for more than 2 weeks.

Customs and traditions vary across China but the common denominator is spending time with your family, and it is therefore often compared to our Christmas.

How do the Chinese celebrate the Chinese New Year?

The night before the first day of the new year is called “Chuxi” in Chinese. This is when the family gets together, relatives visit each other and friends exchange gifts and greetings for the coming New Year. It is compared to the Scandinavian Christmas Eve but also has elements comparable to our new year, namely lighting firecrackers and fireworks at midnight. 

The biggest event of Chinese New Year’s Eve is the dinner. The New Year’s Dinner is a highlight of the night and is a feast with all the best the family can afford to buy. Seafood is particularly popular and prices go up considerably during this time of year. The New Year’s Dinner is very large with many dishes and traditionally includes many dishes of different kinds of meat and fish. In Northern China, dumplings (or jiao zi, in Chinese) are a must, and often several family members take turns to make enough dumplings for the coming days. Dumplings consist of a thin bread dough with a filling of meat, vegetables or both.

During the next 15 days, friends and family will visit each other to exchange gifts and wish each other a prosperous new year. In modern China, most people will have 7 days’ holiday around the Chinese New Year.

Download happy New Year Sign


When is the Chinese New Year?

Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year because the Chinese calendar is based on a combination of lunar and solar movements. The celebrations run from Chinese New Year’s Eve, the last day of the year, to the lantern festival on the 15th day of the new year.

The Chinese lunar calendar is based on a twelve-year cycle in which each year belongs to one of the 12 zodiac animals. The year of one’s own zodiac is considered particularly auspicious, and to increase luck in this year, many Chinese people wear red underwear or a piece of golden jewelry with a red leash in the year of their birth sign. The zodiac animals are: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

Below you will find the dates and animal signs of Chinese New Year in the coming years.

Please note that New Year’s Eve falls the day before the first day of the new year, e.g. on February 18 in 2015.

Gregorian Year

New Year’s Day

Zodiac animal

2014

Jan 31

Horse

2015

Feb 19

Sheep

2016

Feb 8

Monkey

2017

Jan 28

Rooster

2018

Feb 16

Dog

2019

Feb 5

Pig

What can I do to create a similar atmosphere?

Decorations

• The color red is the predominant color used in New Year celebrations in China. To decorate the place with colorful characters for a vibrant atmosphere is suggested
• Dressing in the color red during this time can create a feeling and atmosphere associated with joy, happiness and good luck
• Sweets are essential during the Chinese New Year, and setting out a tray of candy and cakes would definitely be a nice touch
• Decorate rooms with vases of flowers or living plants, e.g. blossoms, platters of oranges and tangerines. Flowers and fruits in the home are believed to bring good luck in the coming year. Avoid white flowers as this symbolizes death.
• Decorations with the coming year’s zodiac animal, i.e. a sheep in 2015.

Greetings

• Happy New Year – Chinese pinyin: Xīn nián kuài lè 新年快乐
• Gong Xi Fa Cai - Gōng xǐ means "congratulations" and fā cái means to become rich or make money. It is a way to wish one joy, wealth and prosperity in the coming year. It is commonly used between business persons and fellow workers.  恭喜发财
• Besides saying Happy New Year to your customers, a welcome letter saying Happy New Year in Chinese is also an easy shortcut to win the hearts of your Chinese guests.

Download a Happy New Year sign here

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