Chinese New Year is the biggest holiday of the year for the Chinese culture. For those living outside of China, chances are good you’ve heard of the holiday, but aren’t quite sure what it’s all about.
In short, it’s a spring festival that celebrates the changing of the Chinese lunisolar calendar. The first day of the New Year falls on the new moon between January 21 and February 20, with celebrations beginning on the evening preceding the first day, and typically lasting until the Lantern Festival.
To help you understand more about one of the world’s largest festivals, here are 12 fascinating facts about the Chinese New Year.
- Chinese New Year is the longest festival in the Chinese Calendar
This holiday lasts for 15 days and is celebrated not only in China, but in other countries including Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as by Chinese families scattered all over the world.
- It is good luck to clean the house in preparation for the festival
Cleaning the house rids it of any bad vibes. In fact, this part of the prep is so crucial that by not cleaning the house, you are risking dishonoring your family, as well as the possibility of misfortune in the year ahead.
- The date is not the same every year
Though it always fall sometime in between January 21 and February 20, the actual date of the new year changes according to the Chinese lunar calendar. For 2019, the festival starts on February 5.
- The red envelopes mean money
If you are handed a red envelope during Chinese New Year, you can jump for joy — there is money inside of it. It is customary to give this money to employees and bosses.
- Midnight on Chinese New Year takes the cake for greatest number of fireworks seen in a single hour
As the biggest producer of fireworks in the world, it’s no surprise that when the clock strikes midnight and marks the beginning of the new year, things are going to get lit.
- Fireworks are not just for show — they are used to expel evil spirits
Though the brilliant colors streaking across and thunderous eruptions are tons of fun, there is greater meaning behind these demonstrations for Chinese New Year. Chinese culture believes that these fireworks are meant to ward off bad spirits and keep everyone safe.
- Chinese New Year means the biggest human migration in the world
It is custom to return home for Chinese New Year, no matter where you live. And for many, home is out in the country. That means a lot of people end up traveling out of the cities every year.
- However, you can’t buy train tickets more than 60 days ahead of time
Tickets for trains in China aren’t available for purchase until 60 days prior to the date of travel. As you can imagine, ticket sales see a huge boost during the time leading up to the Chinese New Year. In fact, reports from 2015 showed that 1,000 tickets were sold every second.
- Showering is forbidden on New Year’s Day
Be sure to double up on your cologne or perfume, as showering is not allowed on New Year’s Day. It is believed that showering will wash away good luck.
- Bringing fake boyfriends/girlfriends home for Chinese New Year is a thing
Some single Chinese people will hire a fake boyfriend or girlfriend to take home with them for the celebrations to avoid enduring awkward conversations about their single status with their parents. And we thought the trips home for the holidays in the United States were full of pressure…
- Red is the color of Chinese New Year
Ever notice how it seems that every Chinese decoration is covered in red? That’s because it’s the color thought to scare away evil spirits.
- When the year is your Chinese zodiac sign, it means bad luck
You would think it would bring good luck, right? Your birth year is called your benming year, and Chinese people fear demons taking away children. Every 12th year is your rebirth year, so be careful and be sure to wear lots of red.