55 Festive Facts About The Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year, is an important Chinese festival celebrated at the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. With these 55 interesting facts about the Chinese New Year, let’s learn more about its – history, how and where it is celebrated, foods and rituals associated with it, and lots more…

Fact 1. In 2017, the Chinese New year will be celebrated on Saturday, January 28.

Fact 2. It is a 16 day festival, starting on the last day of the Chinese calendar year and ending on the fifteenth day of the first month of the Chinese New Year. Note that it is also the longest festival in the Chinese calendar.

Fact 3. The dates of this festival vary; however, it always falls between 21 January and 19 February.

Fact 4. 12 animals, 12 different Chinese New Year Names: surprisingly, each year of the Chinese New Year calendar is named after an animal that is associated with the Chinese Zodiac. The Dragon and the Rabbit are important to the Chinese New Year.

Fact 5. Here is a list of all the twelve animals in order from 1st to 12th: the Rat, the Ox, the Tiger, the Rabbit, the Dragon, the Snake, the Horse, the Sheep, the Monkey, the Rooster, the Dog and the Pig.

Fact 6. The Chinese New Year of 2017 will be the year of the Rooster. It will be 4715th year on the Chinese Calendar.

Fact 7. In the recent years, China Central Television Station broadcasts the Spring Festival party, which is an essential viewing entertainment for families during the evening.

Fact 8. It’s also a myth that the people born under different signs have characteristics that are affected by the the animal for that particular year.

Fact 9. Red paper strips known as “Chunlian” are used to decorate houses. These strips contain messages that convey good luck and health for the family in the New Year.

Fact 10. The Chinese New Year is a festival that is centuries old and has a lot of significance attached with it.

Fact 11. Red is the chief color of the festival and it is also prominent in Chinese culture and traditions. It is also the color of choice for decorating windows and doors with paper-cuts and couplets.

Fact 12. The evening before the first day of the New Year is a time for the Chinese families to gather over dinner. The dinner is aimed at facilitating the reunion of the family members that are usually busy during the year and/or are working in some other regions of China or abroad.

Fact 13. Cleanliness plays a significant role in the upcoming of the New Year and Chinese families take great care in cleaning their houses and properties to welcome the upcoming New Year.

Fact 14. Cleaning is also believed to welcome the incoming of good fortune and expelling of any ill-fortune that might be existent.

Fact 15. The biggest celebration of the Chinese New Year that takes place outside China is in San Francisco, U.S.

Fact 16. Korea, Japan, and Vietnam also use the same Chinese lunisolar (a calendar in many cultures whose date indicates both the moon phase and the time of the solar year) calendar.

Why celebrate the Chinese New Year?

Legend has it that the beginning of the Chinese New Year is associated with a mythical devil called the Nian.

Nian would eat children and villagers. Villagers were always looking to get rid of him but couldn’t find a solution. One fine day, an old man appeared before the villagers assuring them that he will expel Nian from their village. The old man used red papers and fireworks to ward off the devil.

Since that day the villagers understood that red color is a deterrent to Nian and henceforth they would use red paper cuts and red lanterns to decorate their houses and lit fireworks on the occasion of the New Year.

Red lanterns used for decoration in China
Red lanterns used for decoration in China. Image credit – Ivan Bandura

How it is celebrated and where; and what are its other names?

Fact 17. Chinese New Year is a major festival in countries that have large Chinese population including Mainland China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Mauritius, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, Macau, and Hong Kong.

Fact 18. Some countries with a sizable Chinese population add a statutory holiday on the following workday when the New Year falls on a weekend. Yes, the festival is an important day of the year.

Fact 19. The Chinese New Year is known by different names in different regions. Some of the names of this festival are – “Chinese New Year”, “Lunar New Year”, “New Year Festival”, and “Spring Festival”.

The rituals of the Chinese New Year

Fact 20. Buying new clothes and shoes, symbolize a new start.

Fact 21. Cutting hair on the Chinese New Year is considered bad and hence people groom themselves before the New Year.

Fact 22. It is also a good practice to pay off all debts outstanding before the New Year. This brings good luck and good fortune for businesses as well. The idea is to begin the New Year with a lot of energy and good wishes from your dear and near ones as well as business associates.

Fact 23. The decorations used to adorn in the home from the past year are also burnt before the arrival of the New Year. Yes, nothing that will clutter the space is left unattended.

Fact 24. The Reunion Dinner, named as “Nian Ye Fan” is the biggest event of the Chinese New Year.

What food is served for the reunion dinner?

Fact 25. A dish made up of special meats (pork, chicken) and fish is served to the Chinese families as a main course during the special reunion dinner. Other Christians in the U.S. and other countries eat a comparable form of this dinner which is usually the Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas dinner.

Fact 26. Number eight (8) has special consideration in Chinese tradition and culture. This is why 8 individual dishes are served during the sumptuous dinner. However, if someone has died during the previous twelve months, they serve only 7 dishes.

Fact 27. They also serve noodles that are uncut and are as long as they can be made. Uncut noodles represent longevity and long life, which again is a signal of prosperity.

Spicy Szechuan Noodles in Soup
Interesting facts about Chinese New Year: Spicy Szechuan Noodles in Soup. Image credit – Alpha

Fact 28. A popular Chinese phrase – “may there be surpluses every year” brings to attention the good intentions of the Chinese is association with the time they are to experience ahead in their life. Thus, they do not eat the fish completely and store the remainder overnight.

Fact 29. The meat-packed jiaozi dumplings, is among the top most popular food for the occasion. However, it is more popular in northern china than in the southern part of the country.

Dumplings for the Chinese new Year
Interesting facts about Chinese New Year: Dumplings under preparation for the Chinese new Year. Image credit – Danny Bradury

Fact 30. New Years cake is another popular dish that is served in Eastern China. It is made up of glutinous rice flour and some sugar.

Fact 31. Red envelopes (“hong bao” in mandarian) containing cash are received by young people from elders instead of gifts. The amount in the envelope is always even and it must not be completely divisible by four because number four is associated with death, which is unwelcomed in the Chinese culture. People from other nationalities generally exchange gifts during the festive season like on Christmas in the U.S.

Fact 32. The last day of the Chinese New Year, the 15th day of the first month is the Lantern Day. People walk on the streets with paper lanterns in their hand. They believe this would bring good luck during the year.

Fact 33. The Lantern Day arrives on the night of the first full moon of the Chinese New Year.

Fact 34. An estimated more than 2 billion people take part in the Chinese New Year celebrations across the world, which is almost 1/3rd of the world’s total population.

Fact 35Hong Kong, another vibrant and tourist friendly country hosts a horse race during this time of the year. Visitors as well as citizens are amused and it is a great time for people to relax and reflect back on their lives.

Travel chaos

Fact 36. A large chunk of the world’s population moves during this season. And guess where majority of these are going? Yes, you are right. They are migrating to their family members to spend time together and be a part of the much awaited reunion dinner.

Fact 37. The migration during the Spring festival is known as Chunyun, is also the largest human migration in the world.

Fact 38. The New Year is not a great time for singles, in fact. Many people are not yet hitched up and are living life on their own without the support of any partner. This is a tense situation for those who are struggling to find the love of their soul. However, they can find a temporary fix for this problem by renting a fake partner just for the New Years season. Yes, there are many fake boyfriends available. Some Chinese websites have provisions to book a boyfriend just for the festive season.

Fact 39. It is also a myth that the Chinese have descended from mystical creatures – the Dragons.

Fact 40. China Rail Service sold a whopping 300,000 tickets through their official rail ticket booking website every hour during the 2012 Chinese New Year. This is a new record for their website.

Fact 41. The Chinese New Year’s official celebration began on 1912. So the festival by now is more than a century old.

Fact 42. Firework is a huge part of the celebration. Smoke and smog are a huge concern in China. Moreover, firework has also cost a life of a firefighter in 2009 and damages worth $700 million. Not always a nice way to celebrate isn’t it.

Fact 43. Also note that Chinese is home of the world’s largest fireworks industry. And the biggest display of fireworks in the country happens at the mid night of the New Year.

Fact 44. Chinese celebrate the New Year day by day, literally. There is a different tradition for each day and they take time to absorb the atmosphere and the charm that this festival brings. The fifth day for example is reserved for staying at home and welcoming the good fortune.

Fact 45. Gifting flowers and potted plants is a Chinese New Year tradition. And the sale of luxury food and alcohol is dropping in the recent years.

Fact 46. Greetings: one of the popular Chinese New Year greetings “Gong Xi Fa Cai” which meanscongratulations and prosperity” is widely used in the Southern part of the country.

Fact 47. Chinese people also use door god as a way to protect their home and businesses from evil. Door god’s decorations are placed on either side of the entrances to their homes and shops.

Quick facts about Chinese New Year – 2017

Fact 48. During the New Year, all of China, some 1.357 billion people in the country go on holiday!

Fact 49. It is expected that the Chinese will spend a whopping US$100 billion on eating and shopping in the first week of the Chinese New Year.

Fact 50. The train tickets in China are current being sold at a rate of 1000 per second. That’s how big the festival is.

Fact 51. China is all set to see an estimated 2.5 billion trips by land and 58 millions trip by plane between January 13 and February 21.

Fact 52. And they also have the world’s longest high-speed rail network to support the migration. It is 121,000 km long, of which 20,000 km is high-speed.

Fact 53. The average individual journey during 2016 Chinese New Year was about 410 km, which is expected to increase in 2017.

Fact 54. Roughly 6 million outbound trips are expected to take place this year. And the world is doing its best to woo the Chinese tourists who have an average budget of 1450 US dollars for their outbound trip.

Fact 55. Technology giants in China including Alibaba and Tencent have developed a special application in the popular smartphone games that lets users collect red envelops. The users first scan physical objects in their surrounding to hide the red envelopes, which later can be found by their friends and family with the help of the clues provided by those who have hidden them.

References:

  1. CNN.com
  2. K-international.com
  3. Chinesenewyears.info
  4. Softschools.com
  5. History.com
  6. Forbes.com