As the world turns its attention to the upcoming Chinese New Year（中国年，Zhōngguó nián）, excitement builds for this significant cultural event happening later in the month. Known alternatively as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival（春节，chūnjié）, this period symbolizes more than just the dawn of a new lunar calendar; it’s a time for rejuvenation and new beginnings, shedding the remnants of the previous year.
The 2024 festivities, celebrated worldwide, promise an array of time-honored traditions, mesmerizing customs, and a feast of flavors that are hallmarks of this splendid holiday. Dive into our comprehensive guide to grasp the full spectrum of what this magnificent yearly event has in store.
When Does Chinese New Year 2024 Start?
That’s a great question! You might have noticed that Chinese New Year doesn’t have a fixed date like January 1st. That’s because it’s based on the lunar calendar, which is tied to the moon’s phases. Chinese New Year starts the day after the first new moon appears.
For 2024, Chinese New Year falls on Saturday, February 10. The celebrations kick off the evening before, on February 9, known as New Year’s Eve(除夕，chúxī), and they continue until February 24. The grand finale is the Lantern Festival（元宵节Yuánxiāo jié）, which is celebrated on the fifteenth day. This beautiful festival focuses on family and community. While the first days are mostly spent with family, the Lantern Festival brings everyone together, regardless of age, to enjoy festivities and community spirit out in the streets.
What is the Chinese Lunar New Year zodiac animal for 2024?
Many Chinese learners find the Chinese zodiac system fascinating and integral to Chinese culture. Each year in the Chinese calendar is represented by one of twelve zodiac animals, each with its unique significance. For 2024, we welcome the Year of the Dragon（龙，lóng）. In Chinese culture, the Dragon is not just a mythical creature; it’s a symbol of auspicious power, strength, and prosperity.
If your birth year aligns with the Dragon years – 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, or 2012 – 2024 is especially significant for you. It’s an ideal time to pursue your ambitions and tackle challenges with courage. The Dragon’s influence encourages growth and success.
An interesting tradition for those in their zodiac year (本命年, běnmìngnián) is to wear red, such as red socks. Why red? In Chinese culture, red is considered the color of luck and happiness. It’s believed to ward off misfortune and bring good fortune.
Where Do People Celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year?
Chinese New Year is a big holiday in China first. From February 10 to 17 — a full eight days of national holidays! And everyone gets a break from work. So, if you work with people from China, you’ll notice businesses like factories and trading stop during this time, or even longer, because some workers, especially those who have moved away from their families for jobs, might even take a longer break, up to a whole month, to go home and celebrate.
But it’s not just in China where people celebrate. Many other countries celebrate it too, especially if they have many Chinese people or speak Chinese. Countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, Korea, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, and the Philippines have their own ways of celebrating, adding their special touch to the holiday.
All around the world, wherever Chinese people live, you might see celebrations. This could be big gatherings in Chinatowns or just a family celebrating at their home.
What to Wear for Chinese New Year?
As we welcome Chinese New Year, dressing appropriately plays a significant role in embracing the festivities. As your Chinese teacher, I recommend embracing the color red, a symbol of luck and joy in our culture. Opting for a vibrant red outfit, whether it be a traditional qipao, a modern dress, or even a simple red accessory like a scarf or socks, can significantly contribute to the festive spirit. Incorporating elements of gold can further symbolize wealth and prosperity.
Moreover, wearing clothes adorned with Chinese motifs or the zodiac animal of the year adds a meaningful touch to your ensemble, connecting you more deeply with the celebration’s cultural roots. It’s a wonderful opportunity to express respect for tradition while showcasing your style. Each year, many designers release Chinese New Year-inspired collections. While some pieces capture the essence of the celebration beautifully, others might not resonate as well, so it’s important to select carefully.
How to decorate for Chinese New Year?
Firstly, red and gold are paramount. These colors symbolize luck, happiness, and prosperity. Adorn your doors and windows with red lanterns and paper-cuttings, intricate designs that often feature this year’s zodiac animal or other symbols of good fortune, like the character 福 fú. These decorations are not just visually appealing; they’re imbued with wishes for a prosperous year ahead.
Next, consider hanging couplets（对联duìlián） on either side of your door. Written on red paper with auspicious phrases, these couplets express hopes for the coming year and welcome positive energy into your home.
Don’t forget the importance of flowers, which represent renewal and growth. Blooming plants like orchids, peonies, and chrysanthemums are popular choices, each carrying its own symbolic meaning of wealth, prosperity, and longevity.
Lastly, setting up a display with oranges and tangerines can further enhance your home’s festive atmosphere. These fruits are symbols of abundance and happiness, and presenting them in beautiful bowls or as part of a centerpiece can attract good luck.
How do Chinese people celebrate the New Year?
The way Chinese New Year is celebrated can vary greatly depending on where you are in the world. Traditionally, festivities are rich with parades, performances involving magnificent dragons and lions, people dressed in traditional attire, and the loud crackling of fireworks and firecrackers. These elements are not just for show; they’re deeply rooted in tradition, with the fireworks and firecrackers believed to scare away malevolent spirits.
To give you a deeper understanding, let’s explore the day-to-day traditions of Chinese New Year in Mainland China:
- Chinese New Year’s Eve: This is a time for family reunions. People gather for a grand meal, featuring dishes that symbolize prosperity and good fortune. It’s also common to stay up late, or ‘shou sui’, to welcome the new year.
- First Day of Chinese New Year: The first day is marked by honoring elders. Families visit the oldest members, and it’s a day filled with blessings and well-wishes. Firecracker displays at midnight announce the arrival of the new year.
- Second Day of Chinese New Year: Known as ‘kai nian’(开年) in some regions, this day often involves visiting friends and extended family. It’s also a special day for married daughters to visit their birth parents.
- Third Day of Chinese New Year: This day is sometimes called the ‘Day of the Red Dog’. It’s traditionally a day to stay home, as going out is believed to lead to arguments and bad luck.
- Fourth Day of Chinese New Year: This day is typical when businesses reopen. People start their work, praying for good fortune and success in the upcoming year.
- Fifth Day of Chinese New Year: This day holds a special significance as it is the birthday of the Chinese God of Wealth. Many people will set off fireworks to welcome the God of Wealth. It’s also a day when businesses often reopen with great fanfare, hoping to usher in prosperity and success for the year.
- Sixth to Fourteenth Day of Chinese New Year: On thee day, people start to relax and visit natural attractions. Parks and outdoor spaces become popular spots as families take this time to enjoy the beauty of nature. Some people need to return to work soon after.
- Fifteenth Day of Chinese New Year (Lantern Festival): The festivities culminate with the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated at night with beautiful lantern displays and often, a full moon in the sky. Families and friends gather to eat sweet rice balls, called ‘tangyuan’, symbolizing family unity and perfection. In many places, there are lion dances, dragon dances, and other cultural performances. This night is also considered a romantic one, similar to Valentine’s Day, where young couples spend time together and admire the lanterns.
Learn More about Chinese festivals with GoEast:
Mid-autumn Festival: Celebrate Mid-autumn Festival | The Family Reunion Day and a Beautiful Love Story
Dragon Boat Festival:How to make Zongzi / Rice Dumpling for Dragon Boat Festival
Lattern Festival: Chinese Lantern Festival: Traditions and Riddles