Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is the most important festival in China and a major event in some other East Asian countries (Lunar New Year is known as Seollal in South Korea, Tet in Vietnam, and Tsagaan Sar in Mongolian). Lunar New Year celebrations are being held more and more in Western cities in recent years too, like New York, London, Vancouver, and Sydney.
Chinese New Year is the festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. It was traditionally a time to honor deities as well as ancestors, and it has also become a time to feast and to visit family members.
The celebrations traditionally last about two weeks in total, from Chinese New Year’s Eve to the Lantern Festival, held on the 15th day of the lunar year. Regional customs and traditions vary widely but share the same theme: seeing out the old year and welcoming in the luck and prosperity of a new year.
Chinese New Year 2023 will fall on Sunday, January 22nd, 2023, beginning a year of the Rabbit.
- Also called: 'Spring Festival', Lunar New Year
- Chinese: 春节 Chūn Jié /chwn-jyeah/
- 2023 date: Sunday, Jan. 22nd, Year of the Water Rabbit
- Holiday: 7 days
- Celebrations: New Year decorations, New Year's Eve dinner, firecrackers and fireworks, red envelopes, dragon dances...
- See more Chinese New Year facts.
- Chinese New Year Dates
- Chinese New Year Animal
- Chinese New Year Origin and Myth
- Traditions and Celebrations
When Is Chinese New Year 2023?
Again, Lunar New Year 2023 will fall on Sunday, January 22nd, 2023. The date of the Chinese New Year is determined by the Chinese lunar calendar. The date changes every year but is always somewhere in the period from January 21st to February 20th. Read more on Chinese New Year dates from 2023 to 2030.
Chinese New Year Animal: 2023 — Year of the Water Rabbit
Each Chinese year is associated with an animal sign according to the Chinese zodiac cycle, which features 12 animal signs in the order Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig.
2023 is the year of the Rabbit. The recent and incoming Tiger years are 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023, and 2035. If you were born in one of these years, your Chinese zodiac sign is the Rabbit.
People born in the year of the Rabbit will experience their zodiac year (Ben Ming Nian) in 2023, which is considered bad luck. It is believed that wearing red will bring them good luck.
These zodiac signs always begin on Chinese Lunar New Year's Day, rather than January 1st!
|Year||Date of Chinese New Year||Day||Animal Sign|
Chinese New Year Origin and Myth: Legend of Beast Nian
Chinese New Year has a history of over 3,000 years and is associated with several myths. A popular legend tells of the mythical beast Nian (/nyen/, which sounds the same as 'year' in Chinese), which shows up every Lunar New Year's Eve to eat people and livestock. To scare away the monster, people displayed red paper, burned bamboo, lit candles, and wore red clothes. These traditions have been continued until the present time.
Read more on:
Chinese New Year Traditions
The main Chinese New Year activities include 1) putting up decorations, 2) offering sacrifices to ancestors, 3) eating reunion dinner with family on New Year's Eve, 4) giving red envelopes and other gifts, 5) firecrackers and fireworks, and 6) watching lion and dragon dances.
1. Cleaning and Decorating Houses with Red Things
People give their houses a thorough cleaning before the Spring Festival, which symbolizes sweeping away the bad luck of the preceding year and making their homes ready to receive good luck.
Red is the main color for the festival, as red is believed to be an auspicious color for the Lunar New Year, denoting prosperity and energy — which ward off evil spirits and negativity. Red lanterns hang in streets; red couplets and New Year pictures are pasted on doors.
2. Offering Sacrifices to Ancestors
Honoring the dead is a Chinese New Year’s tradition that’s kept to the word. Many Chinese people visit ancestors' graves on the day before the Chinese New Year's day, offer sacrifices to ancestors before the reunion dinner (to show that they are letting their ancestors "eat" first), and add an extra glass and place it at the dinner table on New Year’s eve.
3. Enjoying a Family Reunion Dinner on Lunar New Year's Eve
Chinese New Year (Lunar New Year) is a time for families to be together. Chinese New Year's Eve is the most important time. Wherever they are, people are expected to be home to celebrate the festival with their families. The Chinese New Year's Eve dinner is called 'reunion dinner'. Big families of several generations sit around round tables and enjoy the food and time together.
4. Exchanging Red Envelopes and other Gifts
The most common gifts are red envelopes (or red packets, lìshì or lai see in Cantonese). Red envelopes have money in, and are often given to children and (retired) seniors.
The red envelope (money) is called ya sui qian (压岁钱 /yaa sway chyen/), which means 'suppressing Sui [the demon]money'. Those who receive a red envelope are wished another safe and peaceful year.
The amount of money ranges from a couple of dollars to several hundred. Chinese superstitions favor amounts that begin with even numbers, such as 8 (a homophone for "wealth"), and 6 (a homophone for "smooth"), except for the number 4 as it rhymes with the word that means "death".
Other popular Lunar New Year gifts are alcohol, tea, fruits, and candies.
See more on:
- Who You Should Give Red Envelopes to and How Much to Give
- Best Chinese New Year Gift Ideas of 2022 for Friends, Parents, Kids
- 10 Things You Should Not Give as a Chinese New Year Gift
5. Setting Off Firecrackers and Fireworks
From public displays in major cities to millions of private celebrations in China's rural areas, setting off firecrackers and fireworks is an indispensable festive activity. It is a way to scare away the evil and welcome the new year's arrival.
Billions of fireworks go up in China at 12 am and in the first minutes of Chinese New Year, the most anywhere at any time of year.
- See more on Why Chinese New Year Must Have Firecrackers.
6. Watching Lion and Dragon Dances
Lion dances and dragon dances are widely seen in China and Chinatowns in many Western countries during the Lunar New Year period. They are performed to bring prosperity and good luck for the upcoming year or event.
There are more Chinese New Year traditions and customs, such as wearing new clothes, staying up late on Chinese New Year's Eve, watching the Spring Festival Gala, etc.
Chinese New Year Food
Lucky food is served during the 16-day festival season, especially on the New Year's Eve family reunion dinner. Fish is a must as it sounds like 'surplus' in Chinese and symbolizes abundance. Dumplings shaped like Chinese silver ingots are shared as a sign of the family unit and prosperity. People eat Niángāo (glutinous rice cake) to symbolize a higher income or position as it sounds like 'year high'.
Read more on:
- 7 Lucky Chinese New Year Foods
- The Top 11 Chinese New Year Desserts
- Top 7 Chinese New Year Snacks
- Chinese New Year Fruits
Chinese New Year Superstitions: Things You Mustn't Do
Chinese people traditionally believe that the year's start affects the whole year, so China’s Spring Festival is a season of superstitions. It's believed that what something looks like (color, shape), and what its name sounds like, gives it auspicious or ill-fated significance. There are many things you cannot do:
- Don't sweep up on New Year's Day, otherwise you’ll 'sweep all your luck away'.
- Don't eat porridge for breakfast, otherwise you’ll 'become poor in the upcoming year'.
- Don't wash your clothes and hair (on New Year’s Day), otherwise you’ll 'wash fortune away'.
How to Say "Happy Chinese New Year" in Chinese
When people meet friends, relatives, colleagues, and even strangers during the festive period, they usually say “Xīnnián hǎo” (新年好), literally meaning 'New Year Goodness', or “Xīnnián kuàilè” (新年快乐), meaning ‘Happy Chinese New Year’.
One of the most famous traditional greetings for Chinese New Year is the Cantonese kung hei fat choi, literally ‘happiness and prosperity’. In Mandarin that’s gongxi facai.
新年好 — Happy Chinese New Year
- In Mandarin: xīn nián hǎo /sshin-nyen haoww/
- In Cantonese: san nin hou
恭喜发财 — Happiness and prosperity
- In Mandarin: gōng xǐ fā cái /gong-sshee faa-tseye/
- In Cantonese: gong hay fat choy
For more greetings and wishes, see
- More Ways to Say "Happy New Year" in Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese)
- 40+ Chinese New Year Greetings and Wishes for Family, Friends, Colleagues, Boss, and Clients
Lunar New Year Calendar and Schedule: Key Dates
Each day of the 16-day long festival has a name, and usually an assigned purpose or meaning. Below is a table of all the important dates and their meanings. Keep in mind that different regions and minorities may celebrate the days on different dates, or have different names or practices for certain days.
|Solar Date (2022)||Lunar Date||Title||Purpose / Meaning|
|Jan. 14th||12th month, 23rd day||Little Year
|Preparation day, mainly for thorough house-cleaning, and cooking.|
|Jan. 21st|| 12th month, 30th day
|New Year’s Eve
|The most important celebration, includes the family reunion dinner, and staying up until midnight.|
|Jan. 22nd|| 1st month, 1st day
|New Year's Day
|A day for visiting/greeting family and relatives, giving presents, and visiting ancestors' graves.|
|Jan. 23rd|| 1st month, 2nd day
(迎婿日 Yíngxùrì, or
|Married women visit their parents with their husbands and children.|
|Jan. 24th|| 1st month, 3rd day
|Day of the Rat
|An ominous day, common to stay at home and rest with family, play games.|
|Jan. 25th|| 1st month, 4th day
|Day of the Sheep
|An auspicious day, for prayer and giving offerings, or going to temples or fortune-tellers.|
|Jan. 26th|| 1st month, 5th day
|Commonly accepted as the day when taboos (from previous days) can be broken.|
|Jan. 27th|| 1st month, 6th day
|Day of the Horse
|Believed to be the best day to get rid of old, unwanted things. Also an acceptable day to resume labor.|
|Jan. 28th|| 1st month, 7th day
|Day of Mankind
|Believed to be the day people were created. Encouraged to spend out in nature.|
|Jan. 29th|| 1st month, 8th day
|Day of the Grain
|Good weather on this day will symbolize good crops for the year. Many families will have a second 'mini' reunion dinner.|
|Jan. 30th|| 1st month, 9th day
|The 'Jade Emperor's birthday, giving offerings, lighting incense, and setting off firecrackers.|
|Jan. 31st|| 1st month, 10th day
|The birthday of the 'god stone', similar to the previous day's rituals.|
|Feb, 1st|| 1st month, 11th day
|Fathers are expected to 'entertain' or treat their sons-in-law on this day.|
|Feb. 2nd – 4th|| 1st month, 12th – 14th day
初十二 - 初十四 (Chūshí'èr - Chūshísì)
|Lantern Day Preparations||Preparations for the lantern festival: cooking, making lanterns, etc.|
|Feb. 5th|| 1st month, 15th day
|Marks the end of the festival. Lanterns are lit and hung or flown, people watch dragon dances in the streets, and children answer lantern riddles.|
FAQs about Lunar New Year
1. Why Is Chinese New Year So Important?
Chinese New Year’s importance is rooted deep in history, and today it remains the most important occasion for generations of families to reunite and spend time together. The celebration is also believed to be significant to ensure good fortune for the coming year. Learn the interesting stories and legends about Chinese New Year.
2. How Is Lunar New Year Celebrated?
The most important part of the Chinese New Year celebration is the ‘Reunion Dinner’ on Chinese New Year's Eve when the extended family would join around the table for a meal that included many lucky foods such as fish and dumpling.
Other traditional activities include cleaning houses, visiting family members, decorating, giving gifts and red envelopes, setting off firecrackers and fireworks, and doing some religious practices such as making offerings to ancestors. Click to see the top 18 Chinese New Year celebrations.
3. Why Is It called the Spring Festival?
Though being in winter for most of China, the Chinese New Year is popularly known as the Spring Festival in China. Because it starts from the Beginning of Spring (the first of the twenty-four terms in coordination with the changes of Nature) and marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring.
The Spring Festival marks a new year on the lunar calendar and represents the desire for a new life. Read more on FAQs about Chinese New Year You Must Want to Know Answers To.
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