Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year, is one of the most celebrated events across the globe. The date of celebration varies every year.
The traditions and celebrations go back in time and are transmitted from generations to generation; they welcome health, wealth and good relationships over the coming year.
When and where is it celebrated?
What does it commemorate?
The festival is an opportunity to honour deities as well as ancestors.
It is believed that it originated in the Shang Dynasty when people held ceremonies in honour of gods and ancestors at the beginning of the year.
- China adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1911, so the festivities were renamed the Spring Festival.
The celebration is rich in stories and myths. One of the most popular is about the mythical beast Nian, who would eat livestock, crops and people. To avert such destruction, people would put food at their doors. The beast was also known for being scared of loud noises (firecrackers) and the colour red.
How is it celebrated?
Chinese New Year is an occasion for families to gather and celebrate. It is known for being highly colourful, with people lighting fireworks and watching traditional lion dances.
- On Spring Festival Eve, many people set off fireworks and firecrackers, hoping to keep away bad luck.
It is traditional for every family to clean their house to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for incoming good luck.
Windows and doors are decorated with red paper strips and couplets about good fortune, wealth and longevity. Red symbolises good fortune in Chinese tradition; children will be given red envelopes of money.
- The family dinner is one of the most important meals for Chinese families. Getting home for that dinner leads to one of China’s biggest migrations every year.
In 2018, Chinese are expected to make nearly three million trips from February to March.
The Chinese Zodiac moves in a 12-year cycle; those born in 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, and 2018 were born in the Year of the Dog.
According to Asian astrology, your year of birth – and the animal this represents – set many of your personality traits.
People born in the Year of the Dog are described as independent, sincere, communicative and loyal.
|Sitting around a festive table in Wuhan, Hubei [Wang He/Getty Images]|
|A dish in the shape of a dog stands over the table on February 9 [Wang He/Getty Images]|
|Celebrations at a shopping centre before Lunar New Year in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia [Sadiq Asyraf/AP]|
|Scrambling for Chinese sweetcakes during Grebeg Sudiro festival on February 11 in Solo City, Central Java, Indonesia. Grebeg Sudiro festival is held as a prelude to Chinese New Year, which falls on February 16, welcoming the Year of the Dog [Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images]|