Chinese New Year, or Lunar New Year, is a 15-day festival that is celebrated annually depending on the sighting of the new moon. The occasion is also known as the Spring Festival, and an animal is associated with each New Year. The animals rotate and repeat according to a fixed cycle. The Chinese Zodiac consists of 12 animals. These are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. In that order. 2022 is the year of the tiger.
The Chinese New Year is a grand one, just like the New Year celebration of the Gregorian calendar. A tradition closely followed on this day is getting together with the family to have a feast.
Certain foods are symbolic and are commonplace during the Chinese New Year. Dumplings represent wealth, so they are eaten in abundance, with fish being another food that is eaten a lot. Red is generally considered a lucky color in China and during the Chinese New Year, it is seen everywhere – representing vitality, beauty, luck, happiness, and good fortune.
The world’s population by the 2022 Chinese New Year will be around 7.9 billion people. Of those people, 2 billion will be celebrating Chinese New Year. In mainland China alone, there are about 1.41 billion people and in Hong Kong, there are 7 million people. And if you add up the rest of the Chinese population living in other parts of Asia, America, and Europe, it’s easy to see how that 2 billion number will be fulfilled.
Technically, the Spring Festival is 15 days, but celebrations start on New Year’s eve making it 16. However, you can also say that the holiday season starts in lunar December with the Laba Festival, making it 40 days of celebration. Traditionally, you have to spend time with your family and can only go out after the fifth day. It’s a national holiday meaning the large majority of stores are all closed, so the month before, people will buy nian huo or New Year’s products. The Chinese stock up on cooking supplies, snacks, gifts, new clothes, and whatever else they might need to bring in the new year.
Fascinatingly, this period is also where the largest annual human migration on earth takes place. The reunion dinner with the family is the most important aspect of the Chinese Spring Festival and people travel long distances to be home for the occasion.
With that in mind, we say to anybody celebrating, Xīnnián kuàilè!