Top 10 Facts about Chinese New Year
1) The date varies.
Chinese hold their new year celebrations between the 21st January and 20th February, depending on the Chinese lunar calendar; so although calendar years have a fixed start and end date, the Chinese New Year can be any of 31 different dates!
2) It’s the “Spring Festival”.
The celebration is actually known as “Spring Festival” (春节 chūnjié /chwnn-jyeah/) in China, even though it falls in the middle of winter! This is because the ancient solar calendar, which depicts 24 periods through the year, classifies the start of spring as the period from 4th to 18th February.
3) It’s a worldwide celebration.
Spring Festival celebrations are organised around the world, around 2 billion people take part; countries such as Malaysia and the Philippines have huge celebrations.
The events in Hong Kong are considered to be among the best celebrations in the world each year. They usually hold a major horse racing festival at this time, which proves extremely popular with its citizens and visitors. The events include fireworks, theatrical shows and many other displays.
Major western capitals such as London hold their own Chinese New Year celebrations; London often sees more than half a million people across the city taking part in organised events.
4) 4% of the world’s population are on the move.
It’s been estimated that some 4 million journeys take place, not just 200 million mainland Chinese travel, but also millions in other countries, as people make their way home for the festival and celebrations. For comparison, less than 100 million people travel more than 50 miles (approx. 80km) during the Christmas holidays in the US according to the American Automobile Association.
5) CNY decorations
It is considered good luck to thoroughly clean the house for the festival and thus getting rid of any bad feelings. Failing to do so can bring dishonour and bad luck to the family rather than the good fortune that everyone would like.
Chinese families will usually fill their houses with red decorations as this is held to be a very lucky colour. The streets and public places may also be filled with red banners and signs at this time.
Most homes will include strips of red paper, known as “Chunlian”. These contain messages known as Spring Couplets and usually convey messages of good health and fortune. A typical decoration contains four Chinese characters in gold writing – these are known as “Hui Chun”.
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TimeLapse of the busy intersection at Chinatown Singapore celebrating The Lunar New Year of the Pig 2019. #cny2019 #chinatownsingapore #singaporeinstagram #singaporeinsta #yearofthepig #chinesenewyear2019 #sonya6300 #timelapse #happynewyear2019 #pasirriseliaspic #ronang44
6) Red envelopes and gifts
It is a tradition for younger family members to receive gifts of cash from older relatives, rather than wrapped presents; the money is generally given in a red envelope, to reinforce the positive feeling. It is also common for employees to get such cash gifts as bonuses from their employers.
China is home to the world’s fireworks industry. No single hour in any other country sees as many tons of fireworks lighted as in China around the midnight beginning of Chinese New Year. China produces about 90% of the world’s fireworks!
Fireworks are used to scare evil spirits: Most mainland Chinese believe that the flash and bang of firecrackers and fireworks scare away demons and evil ghosts.
No list of fun facts about Chinese New Year would be complete without mention of a monster! Tradition says that Nian, a ferocious beast who preys on humans, emerges from his hiding place on New Year’s Eve. But Nian is frightened off by the red decorations and banners!
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9) Xinnian Kuaile!
The Chinese expression for Happy New Year is “Xinnian Kuaile” (新年快乐), which is pronounced as “sshin–nyen kwhy–luh“. It is common for Chinese to greet strangers as well as friends at this time, to pass on good luck and fortune for the year ahead.
People often greet each other by shouting “gōng xǐ fā cái,” which translates to “Congratulations and be prosperous!” Children sometimes use the following variant of this greeting when they are feeling cheeky: “gōng xǐ fā cái, hóng bāo ná lái.” It means “Congratulations and be prosperous, now give me a red envelope!”.
10) The Lantern Festival
The two weeks of celebrations usually end with a Lantern Festival; on the eve of the 15th day, families and friends come together again to eat and to put up lanterns or release them into the skies. The Lantern Festival falls on the night of the first full moon of the Chinese New Year.
11) Bonus Fact: CNY is not a fun time for “old” singles.
Chinese New Year is a joyful time for most, but for singles above the normal matrimonial age it’s not. Parents and relatives think they should be settled down. In China, females are said to be marriageable up to 30, and males before 32. Those who don’t get married before these ages are thought to be the dregs of society!
For these singles, parents are extremely anxious. So New Year’s Eve stress is heightened by embarrassing interrogations of the singles. Desperate parents even arrange dating (prospective marriages) for their single children.
To solve this problem an interesting solution has appeared — renting a boyfriend or girlfriend for the New Year. There are websites and agents specialized in this business. Taobao, China’s largest online retailer, has a section for fake boyfriend and girlfriend rentals. The price is about 100 yuan (16 USD) a day.
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