The origins of Chinese New Year are rooted in history more than 2,000 years B.C. -- to mark the end of winter, celebrate the beginning of spring planting, and honor ancestors. The actual day of Chinese New Year is tied to the lunar calendar and changes each year, typically occurring at the end of January or beginning of February.
Chinese New Year is by far the biggest social and economic celebration of the year. It’s a time of huge spending for China’s growing middle class. During 2017, Chinese consumers spent around $70 billion USD related to the holiday – more than the GDP of most Latin American countries.
The days leading up to Chinese New Year are typically spent with family; after Chinese New Year with friends. While there are many local traditons, here are a few that are common everywhere:
- Cleaning. A major spring cleaning happens up to the eve of Chinese New Year, at which point the brooms disappear. Bringing them out after Chinese New Year risks good luck being swept away.
- Food. Stores are filled with delicacies in the weeks leading up to Chinese New Year. Often offered as gifts are oranges and tangerines. The word for orange is pronounced similarly to the word gold. “Nian gao” (year cake) is a sticky treat. Round foods (in the shape of money) are common.
- New clothes and do. The Chinese often celebrate with a new outfit and haircut. The latter must be done before the eve of Chinese New Year, however. As with housekeeping, producing the scissors after Chinese New Year will trim good fortune.
- Decoration. Windows and doorways are often adorned with “Duilian” scrolls, containing excerpts from famous Chinese poems.
- Dance. Lion and dragon dances scare away evil spirits bring good luck.
- Games. Each family has its favourites.
- Gifts. “Hong bao” or red envelopes (paper and increasingly electronic) containing gifts of money are offered to children, friends, workers, and more.
Fireworks. Although increasingly banned in major urban areas, you’ll still see and hear fireworks lighting up the skies on and around the holiday.
The Chinese New Year in 2018 ushers in the year of the Dog. Fast Facts:
- Born in 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018? You’re a dog.
- Dogs are intuitive, friendly, loyal, and enjoy helping those in need.
- Dogs are most compatible with rabbits.
- Famous dogs include Michael Jackson, Benjamin Franklin, Winston Churchill, Socrates, Confucius, Jane Goodall, Jennifer Lopez, and Voltaire.
On the 15th day, Chinese New Year comes to a close as the Chinese celebrate the full moon with a Lantern Festival.
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