What is Chinese New Year?
If you feel the ground trembling beneath your feet on January 25 — don’t fear! It’s simply the beginning of the Chinese New Year. You’ll find a full 20% of the Earth’s population celebrating — using more fireworks than any other day of the year. It’s a celebration marked by good food, red envelopes, and blessings for everyone.
History of Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is the Chinese festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar. The festival is usually referred to as the Spring Festival in mainland China and is one of several Lunar New Years in Asia. The first day of Chinese New Year begins on the new moon that appears between January 21 and and February 20. It’s a major holiday in Greater China and has strongly influenced lunar new year celebrations of China’s neighboring cultures, including the Korean New Year, the Tết of Vietnam, and the Losar of Tibet. It is also celebrated worldwide in regions and countries with significant Chinese populations, like Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, North America, and Europe.
In 1928, the Kuomintang party decreed that Chinese New Year will fall on the first of January, following the Gregorian Calendar, but this was abandoned due to overwhelming opposition from the populace. In 1967 during the Cultural Revolution, official Chinese New Year celebrations were banned in China. The State Council of the People’s Republic of China announced that the public should change customs, have a revolutionized and fighting Spring Festival, and since people needed to work on Chinese New Year Eve, they did not have holidays during Spring Festival day. The public celebrations were reinstated by the time of the Chinese economic reform.
The festival was traditionally a time to honor deities as well as ancestors. Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the New Year vary widely, and the evening preceding Chinese New Year’s Day is frequently regarded as an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly clean their house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for incoming good luck.
Chinese New Year Statistics
20% of the global population celebrates
The world’s population by the 2020 Chinese New Year will be around 7.7 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.
8 billion red envelopes
It wouldn’t be Chinese New Year without a red envelope to pass out to children and single young relatives. Every year, about 8 billion red envelopes make their rounds throughout Chinese families world wide. Each envelope contains either an even number of cash or chocolate coins, which both symbolize good fortune and wealth for the new year.
40 Days of celebration
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.