Why do Chinese people celebrate New Year

Chinese New Years Festival


This custom takes place from 01.02. until February 16, 2022.

Entry information

Chinese New Year is the most important holiday for the Chinese. While in Europe the New Year is held every year on December 31st. is celebrated at midnight, in China it takes place between January 21st and February 21st and lasts for 15 days. This is because the Chinese New Year is calculated according to the traditional Chinese calendar. The calendar follows the phases of the moon, which means that the day of the celebration changes annually. The year 2012 was celebrated on January 23rd, while the 2013 New Year's celebration is on February 10th. Exactly translated one speaks here in China not of a New Year but of a spring celebration.


The Chinese New Year (Chinese: Spring Festival) is primarily celebrated in East Asia (China, Korea, Mongolia, Okinawa, Taiwan and Vietnam). In other places, such as Mongolia, Korea, Miao, Vietnam, etc., which were influenced by Chinese culture, there are some parallels (e.g. making appointments) to the East Asian New Year. In so-called Chinatowns (= worldwide areas with a high ethnic Chinese population) the festival is also celebrated annually in a different form. Due to the worldwide distribution, the custom varies from region to region. For example, the New Year celebrations in Tibet are held a calendar month later than in China.

The Chinese year count

The traditional Chinese farmer's calendar is a lunisolar calendar (Latin: Luna Moon and Sol Sun). The calendar is based on the course of the sun and moon. While the solar cycle sets the years, the moon sets the months. Although the Gregorian (= western) calendar has been in force throughout the country since 1912, the year counting has been based on the lunisolar calendar since 1645.

The Chinese farmer's calendar is considered to be the best-known lunisolar calendar and is still used today in East Asian countries to calculate and determine public holidays. So also for the annual date of the New Year or spring celebrations in China.

The New Year festival is based on the lunar cycle and begins on the first full moon between January 21 and February 21. The year 2012 began on January 23, 2012 and will last until February 9, 2013.

In addition, according to Chinese astrology, there are 12 Chinese zodiac signs (rat, cattle, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, pig, in the same order), which are repeated every 12 years. Thus each year an animal is assigned and celebrated with the New Year celebration. The year 2012 is all about the dragon. One speaks here of the year of the dragon. From February 10, 2013, the year of the snake will follow.


The Chinese New Year is the largest and most important family festival in China. Due to the high number of foreign workers in China, who have been separated from their families for a long time, the largest regular migration movement in the world begins every year for the New Year celebrations. To do this, they usually take their entire annual vacation to spend at least two weeks with their families. There are also three official public holidays during this time. The New Year festival (spring festival) is celebrated through certain customs and rituals and lasts 15 days without the preparatory phase.

The preparation

Preparations for the 15-day New Year celebrations begin some time before the turn of the year. the whole house is traditionally cleaned and decorated. For decoration and throughout the ceremony, the color red dominates. In China this stands for luck and prosperity. Furthermore, the walls of the apartments are painted with the Chinese symbol of luck. Long banners decorate the apartments. These are usually hung upside down on the doors, as the Chinese word dao means both to turn around and to arrive. Despite the cold temperatures at this time of year, all doors and windows are left open to let in happiness. In the days before, new clothes are bought, gone to the hairdresser and some renewed in order to leave the old ones from the past year behind.

Another ritual is the offering of sweet rice to the kitchen god. According to legend, he leaves the house a week before the turn of the year to report the events of the past year to heaven. The sweet rice that is sacrificed should provide positive news.

The Eve / New Years Eve

On the eve of the New Year celebrations, several generations of the family gather in the apartment, mostly with the elder of the family. For the time being, a joint feast will take place where chicken and fish are traditionally served. That evening the children receive gifts of money in red envelopes. After dinner you sit together in a convivial group. The house will be left as early as 11 p.m. in order to carry out the past year. Then you go back into the house and open the windows and doors. Thus, the happiness of the new year should enter.

The fireworks start at 11 p.m. and last until late at night. The New Year is celebrated with a lot of noise and noise. After the fireworks you go back home to watch the last night of the year. A sleepless New Year's Eve gives parents a long life. Every corner of the house is illuminated with lights to prevent demons from taking refuge.

The New Years Day

The first day of the new year (Chinese: Zhēngyuè Chūyī) is celebrated with the husband's family. The mutual New Year's blessings are exchanged in the morning. Then the unmarried family members receive gifts of money in red envelopes. The common meal is followed by the showing of respect and the memory of the ancestors. Depending on the ethnic group, this happens through certain ceremonies and the burning of incense sticks in front of a pedigree.

The second day

On the second day, the bride's family is visited. Once again there will be a joint banquet. In addition, the day is considered the dog's birthday. Thus, a lot of attention is paid to the dog as a pet.

The third and fourth days

The following two days are spent visiting distant relatives and friends. Since large families can often get into disputes at such gatherings, this day is also called Chìkǒu (= free mouth, argument).

However, if a relative has died in a family, the visit must be canceled for three years. Thus, the Chinese people show due respect to the dead. Instead, the memorials and graves of the deceased are visited.

The fifth day

On the fifth day in northern China, the morning is often started with Jiaozi (= Maultaschen) for breakfast. Furthermore, on this day one dedicates oneself to the Chinese god Caischen, who stands for prosperity. This is an original folk hero who was later called to be a god.

The sixth and eighth days

These two days are rest days.

The seventh day

Everyone's birthday (Chinese: Rénrì). This is what the seventh day after the New Year is called. The reason for this is that in China no value was previously placed on individual birthdays. So that day you saw the aging of everyone, by a year. This gave the farmers the opportunity to celebrate.

Today, due to modern change, the individual birthday comes to the fore, which means that the day is no longer celebrated extensively.

The ninth day

On the ninth day, the Jade King of Heaven (Chinese: Tiāngōng) is worshiped. In a ritual with incense sticks, luck and money are primarily asked for.

The tenth to the twelfth day

In the last few days before the final Lantern Festival, the festivities are gradually coming to an end. Mainly close friends and relatives are invited to dinner or taken out. Then you can end the evening with board games like Mah-Jiang or chess.

The thirteenth and fourteenth days

These two days will be used to prepare for the upcoming Lantern Festival.

The fifteenth day

On the last day of the Chinese New Year, the Lantern Festival (Chinese: Yuánxiāojié “) is celebrated. Lanterns are made together and mostly painted with signs of the zodiac, plants, mythical creatures, symbolic animals, puzzles, etc. They are often made of lacquered wood, paper, horn, parchment, and mother-of-pearl. The elaborately made lanterns are hung in front of the houses and courtyards. Tangyuan is also eaten on this day. These are dumplings made from glutinous rice flour with a sweet filling. The families then walk through the streets together and admire the light spectacle. They also try to decipher the painted puzzles, as they are entitled to a gift from the owner.

In China, the lantern symbolizes the hope for better times, success and happiness.

After the Lantern Festival, the 15-day New Year celebration in China ends.

Background information

The legend of the origin of the New Year celebrations

To date, it is not known when the first New Year festival was celebrated. However, according to the legend, the celebration has its origin in the victory over the monster Nian.

This says that the monster Nian lived in the sea. Outwardly, its head resembled a lion and its body resembled a bull. Nian was so strong that only his roar made the earth shake. It has fed on both animals and humans.

One day when the monster could no longer find food in the sea, it came to the nearby villages. The people locked all doors and windows, drove away all sheep and cattle, and fled deep into the mountains.

At some point the residents noticed that Nian was afraid of three things: the color red, fire and noise. So they decided to drive the monster away by frightening it. People hung a board made of peach wood on their front doors, they lit fires in front of the house and made a lot of noise.

When Nian approached the village again one night, it saw the color, the fire and heard the noise. It was frightened and fled back into the sea. From then on it was never seen again.

As a souvenir, a festival was celebrated at the same time every year, which developed into today's Chinese New Year and Spring Festival.

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