Regardless of your geography and culture, you’re likely to have some exposure to this popular holiday. Here are 18 Chinese New Year facts to impress your friends:

  1. Chinese New Year is also known as Spring Festival (春節). It’s the longest and most important Chinese holiday of the year.
  2. The exact date of Chinese New Year changes each year, following the lunar calendar.
  3. Chinese New Year festivities begin on the 1st day of the month and continue until the 15th, when the moon is full.
  4. The origin of Chinese New Year is based on a mythical beast, Nian. The people used the color red and firecrackers to scare away the beast.
  5. Chinese New Year isn’t just celebrated in China. It’s also celebrated in Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippians. Wherever there’s a Chinese population, you’ll find people celebrating.
  6. Red [紅] is the predominant color of the Chinese New Year. It symbolizes fortune, good luck and joy.
  7. Food is an important part of the holiday. Food offered during the New Year is symbolic of happiness, prosperity, luck, fertility and long life. The tangerine is the most popular fruit to share during Chinese New Year. It represents luck and prosperity.
  8. The Chinese Zodiac, known as Sheng Xiao, is more than 2,000 years old.
  9. It’s based on a twelve-year cycle, each year in that cycle relates to an animal sign. These animal signs are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.
  10. Deep-cleaning your home before Chinese New Year is important for two reasons: relatives are coming, but also it’s believed to cleanse the home of all the previous year’s negative energy.
  11. Most Chinese families have a reunion dinner the night before Chinese New Year festivities begin. Shou Sui is the practice of staying up until midnight as a family to greet the New Year and Chinese dumplings are eaten at midnight on for good fortune.
  12. It’s tradition to use red colored paper-cuts outs on windows and doors that symbolize longevity, wealth, happiness, and good fortune. The most popular character is the word “fortune” [福]. It is hung upside down to symbolize the arrival of blessings.
  13. Lion and dragon dances are popular during the Chinese New Year because of their tie to the festival’s origin.
  14. Instead of wrapped presents, children receive red envelopes filled with money. The amount is traditionally an even number, not devisible by four since it symbolizes death.
  15. It’s believed that all outstanding bills owed to friends and family should be paid before the Chinese New Year, so debt is not carried over into the New Year.
  16. Chinese believe that crying on the 1st day of the Chinese New Year will result in sad times for the remainder of the year. It is also poor form to start the new year by swearing, getting upset or losing your cool.
  17. On the last day of Chinese New Year, called Lantern Day, everyone walks along the street carrying paper lanterns. This is supposed to light the way for the New Year.
  18. The highlight of the Lantern Festival is the Dragon Dance. Beautiful dragons made of paper, silk and bamboo are held overhead, and appear to dance as they make their way along the parade routes.

Learn more about Chinese New Year

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