Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year – often called Chinese Lunar New Year although it actually is lunisolar. It is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. Despite its winter occurrence; in China, it is known as “Spring Festival,” the literal translation of the Chinese name 春节 (Pinyin: Chūn Jié), owing to the difference between Western and traditional Chinese methods for computing the seasons. The festival begins on the first day of the first month (Chinese: 正月; pinyin: Zhēng Yuè) in the traditional Chinese calendar and ends with Lantern Festival which is on the 15th day. Chinese New Year’s Eve, a day where Chinese families gather for their annual reunion dinner, is known as Chú Xī (除夕) or “Eve of the Passing Year.”

Chinese New Year is the longest and most important festivity in the Chinese Lunisolar Calendar. The origin of Chinese New Year is itself centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Ancient Chinese New Year celebration is a reflection upon how the ancient culture and traditions of the people. By observing those we get to learn a lot about how it used to be back then. We learn about their faith, beliefs and even age- old customs!

The Lunisolar Chinese calendar.

Animal Branch New Year dates                                    New Year dates
鼠 Rat 子 Zǐ February 19, 1996 February 7, 2008
牛 Ox 丑 Chǒu February 7, 1997 January 26, 2009
虎 Tiger 寅 Yín January 28, 1998 February 14, 2010
兔 Rabbit 卯 Mǎo February 16, 1999 February 3, 2011
龍 Dragon 辰 Chén February 5, 2000 January 23, 2012
蛇 Snake 巳 Sì January 24, 2001 February 10, 2013
馬 Horse 午 Wǔ February 12, 2002 January 31, 2014
羊 Sheep 未 Wèi February 1, 2003 February 19, 2015
猴 Monkey 申 Shēn January 22, 2004 February 8, 2016
雞 Rooster 酉 Yǒu February 9, 2005 January 28, 2017
狗 Dog 戌 Xū January 29, 2006 February 16, 2018
豬 Pig 亥 Hài February 18, 2007 February 5, 2019

This Lunisolar Chinese calendar determines the Chinese New Year dates. The calendar is also used in countries that have adopted or have been influenced by Han culture (notably the Koreans, Japanese and Vietnamese) and may have a common ancestry with the similar New Years festivals outside East Asia (such as Iran, and historically, the Bulgars lands)

Chinese zodiac

In the Gregorian calendar, Chinese New Year falls on different dates each year, a date between January 21 and February 20. In the Chinese calendar, winter solstice must occur in the 11th month, which means that Chinese New Year usually falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice (rarely the third if an intercalary month intervenes). In traditional Chinese Culture, lichun is a solar term marking the start of spring, which occurs about February 4. The dates for Chinese New Year from 1996 to 2019 (in the Gregorian calendar) are at the left, along with the year’s presiding animal zodiac and its earthly branch. The names of the earthly branches have no English counterparts and are not the Chinese translations of the animals.

Alongside the 12-year cycle of the animal zodiac there is a 10-year cycle of heavenly stems. Each of the ten heavenly stems is associated with one of the five elements of Chinese astrology, namely: WoodFireEarthMetal, and Water. The elements are rotated every two years while a yin and yang association alternates every year. The elements are thus distinguished: Yang Wood, Yin Wood, Yang Fire, Yin Fire, etc. These produce a combined cycle that repeats every 60 years. For example, the year of the Yang Fire Rat occurred in 1936 and in 1996, 60 years apart.

Many confuse their Chinese birth-year with their Gregorian birth-year.

As the Chinese New Year starts in late January to mid-February, the Chinese year dates from January 1 until that day in the new Gregorian year remain unchanged from the previous Gregorian year. For example, the 1989 year of the snake began on February 6, 1989. The year 1990 is considered by some people to be the year of the horse. However, the 1989 year of the snake officially ended on January 26, 1990. This means that anyone born from January 1 to January 25, 1990, was actually born in the year of the snake- rather than the year of the horse! Many online Chinese Sign calculators do not account for the non-alignment of the two calendars, using Gregorian-calendar years rather than official Chinese New Year dates.

That video comes as a part of Wishes from Ji

The major festival days are the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th 13th and 15th.


  • Buddhas Delight: An elaborate vegetarian dish served by Chinese families on the eve and the first day of the New Year. A type of black hair-like algae, pronounced “fat choy” in Cantonese, is also featured in the dish for its name, which sounds like “prosperity”. May I add; it’s my delight too..?
  • Jau gok- The main Chinese new year dumpling. It is believed to resemble ancient Chinese gold ingots.
  • Jiao zi- dumplings: Eaten traditionally in northern China because the preparation is similar to packaging luck inside the dumpling, which is later eaten.
  • Mandarin oranges are the most popular and most abundant fruit during Chinese New Year.
  • Noodles: Families may serve uncut noodles, which represent longevity and long life, though this practice is not limited to the new year. We all love this one- isn’t it?
  • Sweets and similar dried fruit goods are stored in a red or black
    Chinese candy box- Taro cakesTurnip cakes

Icons and ornamentals

  • The Koi fish is usually seen in paintings. It symbolizes surplus or success. Our very own WP- Koi theme is also based on the same.
  • Dragon and lion dances are common during Chinese New Year. It is believed that the loud beats of the drum and the deafening sounds of the cymbals together with the face of the dragon or lion dancing aggressively can evict bad or evil spirits.
  • Lanterns would be red in colour and tend to be oval in shape. These are the traditional Chinese paper lanterns. Those lanterns, used on the fifteenth day of the Chinese New Year for the Lantern Festival, are bright, colourful, and in many different sizes and shapes.

In addition to red envelopes, which are usually given from elder to younger, small gifts (usually of food or sweets) are also exchanged between friends or relatives (of different households) during Chinese New Year. Gifts are usually brought when visiting friends or relatives at their homes. Common gifts include fruits (typically oranges, and never pears), cakes, biscuits, chocolates, candies, or some other small gifts.

Wishing you all a very Happy Chinese New Year..

Credits: Wikipedia

About Olivia

Corporate worker, textile designer, writer.
This entry was posted in Festivals and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Chinese New Year

  1. Jingle says:

    you are so thoughtful,

    love the whole post,

    thanks for the sweet attention and kindness.
    you rock.

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