Gung Hay Fat Choy! That’s Happy Chinese New Year to you. For 2017, Chinese New Year falls on Saturday, January 28, and is a time to celebrate the hard work of the previous year, relax with family, and hope for a prosperous upcoming year. Here are 6 facts you may not know about China’s biggest holiday celebration of the year:
Chinese New Year isn’t only Chinese. It’s a celebration of the Lunar New Year, which is observed across Asia. In fact, it is a major holiday for 20% of the world’s population. Countries including China, Brunei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, North Korea, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam have one to four days designated as public holiday.
It is the world’s biggest holiday for fireworks. Move over, 4th of July – The hour following midnight at the start of Chinese New Year sees more fireworks than any other time worldwide. It doesn’t hurt that China produces 90% of the world’s fireworks! It’s a tradition rooted in superstition, as the light and noise are said to scare away demons and ghosts.
Billions of red envelopes change hands. Full of cash, these are given from bosses to employees and from old to young. Your excitement level about this custom might depend upon where you fall in the pecking order!
Its date changes from year to year. No predictable January 1 for this holiday – Chinese New Year can fall anywhere between January 21 and February 20, according to the current lunar cycle.
Every year is marked by one of 12 animals. The Chinese Zodiac cycles through 12 animals, and 2017 is the year of the rooster. The animal under which you were born is significant, according to Chinese lore.
Chinese New Year is called “Spring Festival” in China. Although it falls during cold months, think of “Spring Festival” as a nod to the fact that winter will soon be over – “Start of Spring”, February 4 to 18, is the first term of the solar calendar.
Have fun and join in the celebration! If you’re near San Francisco, New York, or Los Angeles, you can enjoy some of the largest celebrations in the United States, to include parades, festivals, concerts, performances, and more. Or, invite family and friends to your home for Chinese New Year’s Eve, seen as the most important meal of the year. Called “Reunion Dinner”, it’s a time to gather around the table with loved ones. Deck the halls in red for good luck (with a few roosters for 2017), and serve traditional Chinese foods such as fish, dumplings, long noodles, fruit, mustard greens, and spring rolls. Here’s to another New Year celebration in good health!