Chinese New Year is a major holiday in China, and is celebrated around the world.
Here are 10 interesting facts about this popular holiday:
- New Year is the most important and the longest celebration in the Chinese calendar.
- The start of Chinese New Year depends on the phases of the moon, or on a lunar or lunisolar calendar rather than on the Gregorian calendar. While the date changes yearly, it usually begins between January 21 and February 10.
- The colour red holds a significant place in Chinese New Year celebrations. Specifically, people wear red clothes, they decorate poems on red paper, and they give children ‘lucky’ money in red envelopes. For the Chinese, red symbolizes fire, which traditionally was believed to prevent bad luck.
- On Chinese New Year’s Day, children are not spanked if they are misbehaving because, according to tradition, if children cry on this day, they will cry all year.
- Each year of the Chinese 12-year cycle is named after an animal. Once the 12-year cycle is over, the animal list begins again. The 12 animals are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep (ram/goat), monkey, rooster, dog, and pig, with 2018 the Year of the Dog.
- Instead of wrapped gifts that other nationalities exchange during their main holiday season, for Chinese New Year, children receive red envelopes full of money. The amount is usually an even number — but cannot begin with a four, because the number four sounds like the word for “death” in Chinese.
- In China, it is becoming increasingly popular to hire a “fake” girlfriend or boyfriend to take home during the Chinese New Year to stave off parental pressure to marry. One Chinese mother, desperate for her son to return home for the Chinese New Year, paid for a full front-page ad in the Chinese Melbourne Daily saying: “Dad and Mum won’t ever force you to get married. Come home for Chinese New Year! From your mum who loves you.”
- On the 15th and final day of the Chinese New Year, people eat round dumplings shaped like the full moon. The round balls symbolize reunion and have glutinous rice flour sugar fillings.
- On New Year’s Day, no sweeping or dusting takes place in a Chinese home because people don’t want to sweep away good fortune.
- Younger people in China increasingly prefer to surf the internet, sleep, watch TV, and spend time with friends during Chinese New Year rather than celebrate with family. For them, the holiday has evolved from focusing on renewing family ties to a chance to relax from work.
Are you 'a dog'? Check your Chinese zodiac star sign here.