Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is the most important traditional festival in China. It is a rich and colourful folk festival that combines worshipping gods and ancestors, praying for blessings, and warding off evil spirits.
The Spring Festival officially lasts from the first day of the lunar calendar every year to the Lantern Festival – this year that’s between 22 January and 5 February. Each day has a special meaning.
The Spring Festival has a long history, and the ways we celebrate it have changed gradually. In ancient times, people set off firecrackers to welcome in the festival and drive away evil. Some cities in China have banned firecrackers for safety and pollution reasons, others still allow them at New Year. But now people often tend to focus more on reuniting with relatives and friends that day. They enjoy delicious food, have fun, share the past year’s experience, and send good wishes to each other.
Many people keep traditional ceremonies and customs going, to continue the cultural heritage of the festival. This includes symbolically cleaning their house; pasting couplets wishing for a better life in the new year; eating New Year’s Eve dinner; dragon and lion dances; playing gongs and drums; and putting up lanterns.
There are many regions and ethnic groups in China, and various activities to celebrate the new year are held all over the country with strong local characteristics. They have different foods – for example, in northern China, people eat dumplings; in southern China, they eat glutinous rice balls; and in Hong Kong, they prefer pastries. When I was young, my grandma would cook a big pot of sweet, delicious radish cakes.
My favourite tradition is giving red envelopes. When we visit friends and relatives with parents, the elders will give the younger generation a red envelope, which contains lucky money with good wishes – it often contains a lot of money for a young person.
Check your Chinese zodiac animal
There are 12 zodiac signs according to your year of birth. You can check the table below to see what animal you are.
|Chinese zodiac sign||Year of birth|
|Rabbit||… 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023 …|
|Dragon||… 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024 …|
|Snake||… 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025 …|
|Horse||… 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026 …|
|Goat||… 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027 …|
|Monkey||… 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028 …|
|Rooster||… 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029 …|
|Dog||… 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030 …|
|Pig||… 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031 …|
|Rat||… 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020 …|
|Ox||… 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021 …|
|Tiger||… 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022 …|
How to say ‘Happy Chinese New Year’ in Cantonese
Greetings are also important in Chinese New Year. In Cantonese, you can say ‘Gong hei fat choy’ (恭喜发财), which means ‘Wishing you happiness and prosperity.’ Or you can say ‘sun nin fai lok’ (新年快乐), which means ‘Happy new year’.
For Chinese people, the most important thing about new year is that it’s a day when people reunite with families. Even if they live overseas or in other cities, people will return home and accompany their families during this period. It is the most lively and happy day for every family. We share our past year’s experiences and give each other blessings. It fills us with energy and makes us feel ready to start a brand new year.
Support from Delta Capita
Delta Capita want all our employees to feel included, regardless of their background, beliefs, or culture. We encourage staff to allocate time to their cultural and religious practices; and to their physical and mental wellbeing too.
Employees that feel supported in these activities generally feel healthier, happier, and have more sense of belonging and engagement at work.
Are you looking for a new workplace that values diversity and employee wellbeing? Check out our latest vacancies. Also find out how Delta Capita are reinventing the workplace through employee-centric projects at our Reinventing Hub.
This article is part of a series about reinventing support and inclusion for employees. Other articles in the series include South Asian Heritage Month, Black History Month, Pride, Father’s Day, Eid al-Fitr, neurodiversity, Ramadan and Easter.