Customs of the Chinese New Year



Monday, 8 February, 2016 is the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year. From February 7th to February 13th this year, people don’t go to school or work for a week, as an official holiday. In this coming week, I’d like to keep posting and sharing something about the Chinese New Year. For today, let me tell you what we do for the Chinese New Year.

  • About Time

The Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) is not a one-day holiday. The government decides people don’t have to go to work for 7 days, but the real celebration starts earlier and lasts longer. Usually, we say the Spring Festival starts on December 23rd or 24th, and ends on January 15th (the Chinese Lunar Calendar). Also, fireworks are only allowed during this period in China, in order to protect the environment. Every year, the first day of the Chinese New Year is a different day because of the difference between the solar calendar and the lunar calendar. The earliest Chinese New Year in history was January 21st in 1966, and the latest Chinese New Year was February 20th in 1985.

  • About Customs on Different Days
  1. From December 23rd or 24th (the lunar calendar)

People have to clean the whole house including all the details. Also, people start to prepare for the special food and any material they need for the New Year. Chinese people like to wear new clothes and use everything new for the New Year.




  1. On December 30th (there is no 31st on the lunar calendar)

Everyone goes home from working in another city for the Chinese New Year, because it is the most important holiday for families to gather together. In a family, people usually go to the father’s parents’ house for this special night. For example, my father, my mother, my brother and I go to my father’s parents’ apartment for the Eve of the Chinese New Year. My father is the person who cooks for the whole family, which means he has to start to cook since the morning until the dinner. Chinese people have a lot of food for holidays, especially the Chinese New Year. What to eat all depends on what the family likes to eat, but fish is required for this night, because “fish” and “extra” sounds the same in Chinese. People cook fish and eat it at the eve, praying to have a more wonderful year with a lot of “extra”, like extra money or extra happiness. There is also a TV show called Chinese New Year Gala, which everyone watches it from 8pm to midnight. Everyone also has to stay up until at least midnight, which means people say goodbye to last year and move on to the New Year.

FYI: The Chinese New Year Gala will be a live show at 7am on February 8th for the time in New York. Here are the links for you if you’re interested to watch. YouTube: Facebook:




  1. From January 1st (the lunar calendar)

Since this day, it is the time for the women, who are married, to go back to their parents’ house with their husbands and their children. But it is not necessary to go back on the first day, because people still need to work the schedule out if it is a big family. For example, the first day is for my father’s sister and her own family to come to visit my grandparents. So my mother doesn’t bring us back to her family until the second day of the New Year and we stay with my aunt’s family and my grandparents all together for the first day. Therefore, it is different for every family to have their own events. But it is the same that people all have a big dinner and play games like Mahjong when they meet each other. There’s a happiest thing to be a child because all your parents, grandparents, aunts or anyone who is in a higher generations than you are going to give you “lucky money” in a red envelop for the Chinese New Year.


Red Envelops


People visit each other as families and friends during the seven days when they don’t have to go to work. Dinner and entertainment are what Chinese people always do for it. Until January 15th, which is the day of Lantern Festival, the Chinese New Year holiday is finally over. I hope my introduction for the customs of the Chinese New Year helps everyone to understand the holiday in general. In the coming week, I’m going to also share about food of the Chinese New Year and the coming Lantern Festival.

Happy Chinese Year and enjoy the Super Bowl!

3 thoughts on “Customs of the Chinese New Year

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