Chinese New Year 2024
Chinese New Year (also known as Lunar New Year or Spring festival) 2024 officially begins on February 10th. However, the Chinese New Year date changes yearly as the Chinese lunar calendar determines it. Still, it always falls from January 21st to February 20th. The day of the Chinese New Year is always a new moon day, usually the second after the winter solstice.
What is Chinese New Year, and why is it celebrated?
The Chinese New Year is the time to worship ancestors and celebrate with your loved ones. Over time, it has also become a time to feast and visit family members.
The celebrations, which are held to usher out the old year and bring forth the luck and prosperity of the new one, last for 16 days. However, these are the most notable dates of the 2024 Lunar New Year:
- February 2nd – the Little Year (小年 – Xiǎonián) – when the preparations for the new year begin.
- February 9th – Chinese New Year’s Eve (除夕 – Chúxì).
- February 10th – Chinese New Year’s Day (初 – Chūyī).
- And finally, on February 24th, the Lantern Festival (元宵节 – Yuánxiāojié).
Chinese New Year is the most important festival in China. However, it is also significant in other East Asian countries, such as Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore. Our offices in these locations are closed for business during this holiday. Our Hong Kong office will be closed from the 12th to the 14th of February, our Singapore office will be closed on the 12th and 13th of February, and our Malaysia office will be closed on the 12th of February. We wish our team members, clients, candidates, and community in these offices happy and memorable celebrations with their family and friends!
What is the 2024 Chinese Zodiac Animal?
According to the Chinese zodiac cycle, each year corresponds to one of 12 animal signs and one of five basic elements; combining the 12 animal signs and five elements creates a 60-year cycle. The Chinese lunisolar calendar determines the specific animal and element associated with a particular year. The Year of the Dragon in 2024 is related to the element of Wood. The combination of the animal sign (Dragon) and the element (Wood) designates the year as the Year of the Wood Dragon.
The years of the Dragon include 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000 and 2012. Individuals born in the Year of the Dragon are believed to possess specific characteristics and traits associated with the Dragon. They tend to be ambitious, courageous, confident and charismatic. They are naturally lucky and gifted, often accomplishing their endeavours with a high degree of excellence. Emperors are said to have descended from Dragons, which is why, out of the 12 zodiac signs, the Dragon is the most popular!
In Chinese astrology, zodiac signs and elements are associated with a lucky colour that can impact an individual’s prosperity and fortune. For those born in the Year of the Dragon in 2024, the auspicious colour is gold, signifying success, wealth and honour. Yellow is an auspicious colour for Earth, representing wealth, solidity and stability. Wearing yellow clothes or accessories and using yellow decorations in the home can help increase luck in 2024, particularly for those starting a business or developing their careers.
How is Chinese New Year traditionally celebrated, and why?
One of the most famous legends is about the mythical beast Nian 年. He would terrorise villages, eating everything from mosquitos to humans. As time passed, the villagers realised that the monster returned every 365 days, on the eve of a new year, to cause havoc before heading back into the forest. This was when the villagers decided to take action!
To prevent Nian from attacking people and causing general destruction, people put food at their doors to distract him. It’s said that a wise older man figured out that Nian feared loud noises and the colour red.
In the hope of getting rid of him once and for all, people put red lanterns and red scrolls on their windows and doors. Even crackling bamboo was lit to scare him away, which later turned into firecrackers.
Customs and traditions vary widely, but they all carry the same theme. Many things to do with Chinese New Year are bright, loud and red. Decorations are put up, including lanterns 灯笼, family and friends gather for a reunion dinner and drink wine, they exchange gifts, watch Dragon dances and fireworks!
These are the main activities you may see happening over the holidays:
While Nian may fear the colour red, in Chinese culture it represents happiness and good fortune. Lots of decorations are put up for the Chinese New Year. You will see paper Cutting Arts 窗花 (chuāng huā), Door Gods 門神 (mén shén), Fortune words hung up 福 (fú), Spring Festival Couplets 春聯 (chūn lián), Paintings 年畫 (nián huà), Kumquats 金桔 (jīn jú) and Lanterns 燈籠 (dēng lóng).
As part of Chinese New Year traditions, to pay respects to passed family members and ancestors, families offer sacrifices. It is believed that the spirits of our ancestors are always with us, protecting us and helping us become prosperous.
Before their reunion dinners, families worship their ancestors, allowing them to eat first. Families visit their loved ones’ graves or shrines, first sweeping and cleaning the area before offering joss paper, joss sticks, meat, and wine. Offering sacrifices on New Year’s Eve and throughout the festivities is a way of paying them back for their lasting protection.
Food is one of the things the Chinese take the most pride in. Like the activity and decorations, the dishes are created to give blessings.
Family and friends gather for a reunion dinner on Chinese New Year’s Eve. Though every household will have different customs, some familiar dishes are on every table. Hot Pot 火鍋 (huǒ guō) is, for many, the centrepiece of the dinner. It may sit alongside Spring Rolls 春卷 (chūn juǎn), Dumplings 餃子 (jiǎo zi), Noodles 長麵 (cháng miàn), Steamed Fish 蒸鱼 (zhēng yú), Steamed Chicken 蒸雞 (zhēng jī), Nian Gao 年糕 (nián gāo) and Vegetarian stir-fry田園素小炒 (tián yuán sù xiǎo chǎo).
Many meats and vegetables have symbolic meanings, as well as being tasty!
In traditional Chinese medicine, wine was often used. It’s also known as 百药之長 (bǎi yào zhī zhǎng), meaning alcohol is the leader of all medicine. It isn’t widely known that the wine culture in China is just as long and important as tea.
Alcohol (酒 / jiǔ) represents longevity (長壽 / chángshòu). People will drink to everlasting friendships, happiness, and other wishes during this holiday.
The most common alcohol drunk for Chinese New Year is Chinese white wine, or baijiu 白酒 (báijiǔ).
As New Year is the year’s biggest celebration, gifts are exchanged amongst family and friends. Traditionally, children and retired people within a family are given money in colourful red envelopes. When handing someone a red envelope as a gift, it is believed that you wish them luck and prosperity. The money inside is a way to guide you to that in the New Year for the future.
Due to superstitions, it is bad luck to gift people certain things, like clocks, scissors and pears. This holiday’s traditional gifts may include fruits, candles, alcohol, plants/flowers and tea. Read more on what not to give at Chinese New Year.
One of the most famous Chinese New Year traditions is letting off firecrackers. Also, fireworks are set off at midnight and for the first few minutes of the New year, much like other New Year celebrations worldwide! But firecrackers are a uniquely Chinese New Year custom.
Some families celebrate on the doorsteps of their homes, and some people celebrate in large numbers at a big show. Either way, you can expect a lot of noise when New Year arrives! Due to security reasons, since the 1960s, firecrackers have been illegal in Hong Kong, and fireworks have been banned in many cities around China. Still, you can expect to see them in many other cities.
You’ll likely have seen the traditional Chinese dragon dance at some point. It is a spectacular show with dancers, performers, puppets, magical dragons, and lions dancing alongside them! This performance is part of a procession through the streets and is widely seen throughout Chinese New Year celebrations. It is a beautifully colourful and lively part of celebrations meant to bring prosperity and good luck for the coming year.
What are the superstitions around Chinese New Year?
As Chinese New Year is the start of a new year, Chinese people believe that what you do during this time will affect your luck in the coming year.
With this in mind, this holiday period has some dos and don’ts – there are some taboos on the first day of the New Year, and some superstitions that remain for the whole New Year season.
Chinese people believe that what you do during this time will affect your luck in the coming year. The cry of a child is believed to bring bad luck to the family. So, for this holiday, everyone does everything they can to keep children from crying!
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