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Traditional Chinese lion decorations for New Year

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Chinese New Year

There are many ways of marking the end of the year in different cultural traditions. Whether you celebrate the Solar New Year (January 1st), Samhain (October 31st), or Rosh Hashanah (September), there are so many fascinating ways to welcome a new year.

Today, let’s take a closer look at Chinese New Year traditions.

The Year of the Rat

The first question most people have about Chinese New Year is which animal will represent the coming year. 2020 is the Year of the Rat. The rat is the first animal in the Chinese zodiac and symbolizes new beginnings, wealth, and fruitfulness.

Grab Your Lunar Calendar

The date changes every year because it’s based on a lunar calendar, not the Western Gregorian calendar that most of us use every day. It might fall as early as January 21st or as late as February 20th.

In 2020, the new year begins on January 25th.

A New Year By Any Other Name

In China, you might hear the New Year referred to as chunjie, the Spring Festival. It’s also called Lunar New Year since similar festivals are celebrated all throughout Asia, not just in China.

Let’s Get Together

One of the most important traditions for the festival is the reunion, when families gather under one roof for dinner on New Year’s Eve. The meal will feature lots and lots of delicious dumplings.

Light a Lantern

On the final night of the 15-day festival, it’s time to light paper lanterns, eat tasty rice ball treats and maybe even find love. It’s a big, beautiful party full of dancing, colored lights and solving traditional riddles.

In 2020, the Lantern Festival will fall on February 8th.

Biggest Night for Fireworks

China invented fireworks, so it’s no surprise that the traditional New Year celebrations start with a bang. The sound of firecrackers is supposed to ward off bad luck–and scare off monsters, too.

Plan Ahead

During the first five days of the New Year festival, pretty much everything shuts down. Many stores are closed, and it is traditional to spend those days at home with your family or in prayer.

That might be why the days before the festival are some of the busiest shopping days in China!

Lucky Money

Red envelopes are everywhere during the Spring Festival. Kids will receive these envelopes from their families, but they can also be given between friends or at the workplace. The envelopes contain “lucky” money.

Paint the Town Red

Why are those envelopes red? Because red is the luckiest color in Chinese culture. Red lanterns, brand-new red clothing, red decorations–red everything!

Not So Lucky

You might think that if you were born in a previous Year of the Rat, then 2020 will be a lucky year for you. Not so fast! The year that matches your Chinese Zodiac sign is actually the least lucky for you.