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What is Chinese New Year?

Updated: May 18, 2020

大家好!我是 Everyday Easy Chinese的林老师。

Sometimes learning the Chinese language just isn’t enough and to prepare yourself to study, work or travel in any country, it’s always good to learn about the culture.

In this lesson, we will learn about “Chinese New Year” and how you can take part.


Chinese New Year, one of largest and most important festivals in China, is also called 春节 (Chūnjié) in Chinese. This literally translates to “Spring Festival”. In ancient times, farmers marked the Spring season as the end to a cold winter and the start of a new harvesting year. For a successful harvesting year going forward, farmers would hold many activities to worship their ancestors and different gods. In modern times, Chinese New Year is an auspicious festival where families and friends gather together to celebrate the coming of the new year.


Many countries around the world celebrate the “Spring Festival". Countries such as Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia are some of the countries that celebrate the “Spring Festival”.


Contrary to what many people may think, Chinese New Year isn’t celebrated on the January the 1st of our calendar year. The dates change every year because it is based on the Lunar calendar. The festival lasts for 15 days, starting on the first day of the lunar calendar to the 15th day. Traditionally it lasted from the 23rd or 24th of the 12th lunar calendar month to the 19th of the 1st lunar month of the new year.


If you are ever invited to spend Chinese New Year with a family or friend. Here are a few tips that you might want to know:

1. Red packet(红包) Hóngbāo During Chinese New Year, you may be given a red packet with some money inside. This is given to you to wish you good luck and good fortune in the coming year. You shouldn’t normally open the red packet in front of the person and in some regions, people put the red packet underneath their pillow and open it past the 7th day of the lunar calendar year. This symbolizes good luck and good fortune for the following year.

2. Exchanging gifts: Friends and families would also exchange small gifts such as candies and cookies. If you do decide to give a gift, there are some gifts that you mustn’t give.

3. Clothing: People wear a brand-new set of clothes, usually with the color red or other brightly colored clothes to symbolize a fresh new start.

4. Food: We eat a lot during Chinese New Year and different parts of China will have different customs. For example, in the Northern provinces of China, people will eat dumplings. This is because dumplings look like ancient gold and silver pieces and consuming this is believed to bring you wealth and good fortune. In the southern provinces, people may eat 年糕 Niángāo which is rice cake. The pronunciation of the word sounds like “year” and “tall”, people eat this because they believe that you will rise higher and higher in your successes year on year.

So that’s it from our first lesson on “Chinese New Year” or the “Spring Festival” which is celebrated on the first day of the lunar calendar in many countries in Asia. Watch out for the red packets with money and good food which will bring you good luck for the new year.

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