Chinese New Year quick Guide

Quick Guide on Chinese New Year


For those expats who live in China, you already know this is the true holiday season. Slowly stores and your favorite restaurants will become to close. The streets of Shanghai will do something very very rare: Become empty. Yes, it’s Chinese New Year or what we prefer to call it, Spring Festival. For the veterans and newbies who don’t know anything about this wonderful holiday, we have a cheat sheet for you below:


What is Chinese New Year All about?

Chinese New Year or better known as Spring Festival is the most important holiday in Chinese Culture. Think of it as if you combined Christmas and Thanksgiving together to one continuous celebration, and multiply that by 10.

The Chinese calendar is scheduled on a Lunar calendar with each month beginning on the darkest day.  Spring Festival will generally begin on the first day of the month and run until the 15th but also the dates due alter year over year.


Where did the Chinese zodiac come from?

The legend behind the Chinese Zodiac begins with Buddha asking all the animals in the animal kingdom to meet him on Chinese New Year. Only twelve animals showed up, and Buddha named a year after each of them. He also told the animals that people born during your year will share some of your personality traits.


Why so much Red?

Red represents Fire, which will drive away bad luck and evil spirits. People will wear red not only to celebrate the holiday season but also are keeping their best interests at heart by keeping the evil doers at bay. That’s why you will people wearing tons of red, poems on red paper, and etc. This tradition also affects the usage of fireworks. Fireworks during the ancient times were used to frighten and scare of evil spirits.

Traditionally, red envelopes or red packets (Pinyin: lìshì; Mandarin: hóngbāo 红包) are passed out during the Chinese New Year's celebrations, from married couples or the elderly to younger siblings and family members. The kids aren’t left out of this tradition either as they too receive red envelopes.


These red packets began as a tradition that represents "the money used to suppress or put down the evil spirit".

When handing out these red packets, the money enclosed usually will be an even number for luck. Also, odd number amounts of money are given out during funerals representing bad luck or death. The numbers ‘8’ and ‘6’ are considered lucky. 4 is considered unlucky and means ‘death’. Odd and even numbers are determined by the first digit, rather than the last.


Hope this helps give a bit more understanding about Chinese New Year