The Chinese Spring Festival, or New Year celebrations, mark the start of the Chinese New Year and typically begins on the 23rd day of the 12th Chinese lunar month. This year, it falls on February 10. The celebration usually ends on the 15th day of the first lunar month, with shops and other businesses already open by the fifth day of the first month. There are similarities between the Spring Festival celebration in China and Mauritius. The holiday is preceded by the tradition of warding off bad luck as it is in China. Then, the day is characterized by the preparation of a wealth of delicious traditional Chinese dishes.
History of Chinese Spring Festival
The Chinese Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, is usually celebrated by the Chinese community in Mauritius following the traditional Chinese lunar calendar. The exact date of the festival on the Gregorian calendar widely used today is typically around January or February.
It is believed that the modern Chinese Spring Festival is a continuation of an ancient Chinese autumn tradition. Before the new year celebration started, the ancient Chinese would gather to celebrate the end of the autumn harvest. During this period, people would clean millet-stack sites, toast guests with traditional Chinese red wine or mijiu, slaughter lambs, and go to their masters’ homes to toast to them and cheer the prospect of living a long life together.
On the eve of modern Chinese New Year celebrations, as in old times, families would come together for a special reunion dinner with dishes on the menu having idiomatic and specific meanings.
When the new year finally came, people would typically light fireworks at the entrance of their homes to ward off bad luck. In Mauritius, despite the Mauritian Chinese community being relatively small, the Spring Festival is a national public holiday making it the only country outside Asia to celebrate Chinese New Year with a public holiday.
The main celebration of the new year takes place in the Chinatown area of Port Louis, with typically colorful parades of traditional New Year celebration costumes like the dancing dragon complete with energetic dance performances and fireworks.
Chinese Spring Festival timeline
“The Classic of Poetry,” a poem written during Western Zhou (1045 — 771 B.C.) by an anonymous farmer, is believed to be the earliest known attempt to describe the origin of the New Year.
The ruling Kuomintang party’s decree that the Chinese New Year should from then fall on January 1 of the Gregorian Calendar is met with widespread objection and is quickly reversed.
During the Cultural Revolution, the celebration of China’s annual holiday is effectively forbidden for 13 years until 1976.
C.C.T.V. starts broadcasting the New Year's Gala which is now watched by at least one billion people annually.
Chinese Spring Festival FAQs
How long does the Chinese Spring Festival last?
The Chinese Spring Festival or New Year celebrations start on the 23rd day of the 12th Chinese lunar month and last for about 23 days. The celebration usually ends on the 15th day of the first lunar month, with shops and other businesses already open by the fifth day of the first month.
How is the Spring Festival celebrated in Mauritius?
Families usually gather together on the eve of Chinese New Year for a celebratory dinner. The day itself is characterized by the preparation of a wealth of delicious traditional Chinese fare. There’s also almost always a live parade with energetic dancers and colorful and outstanding costumes you can attend.
How do you celebrate the Spring Festival in the U.S?
Chinese Spring Festival celebration is characterized and preceded by ancient rituals of lighting firecrackers at storefronts, starting an extensive clean-up of the home to ward away any traces of bad luck. Observe these traditional Chinese new year rituals to celebrate the holiday.
Chinese Spring Festival Activities
Observe Spring Festival rituals
The Chinese Spring Festival celebration is characterized and preceded by the ancient rituals of lighting firecrackers at storefronts, and an extensive clean-up of the house to ward away any traces of bad luck. Engage in these traditional Chinese New Year's Eve customs to celebrate the holiday. Brighten your home with decorations — you can even paint parts of it in the color code of the festival, which symbolizes happiness — red.
Serve a Chinese meal
New Year meals include food with symbolic meaning, such as fish for abundance, dumplings for luck, spring rolls for wealth, and noodles for longevity. Search online for recipes and try something new like dumplings with tasty fillings, or rice cakes.
Celebrate on social media
Celebrating on social media, and showing support, is perhaps the best way to observe the Chinese Spring Festival if you can't travel to China. Watch C.C.T.V’s broadcast of the New Year's Gala event that is watched annually by billions of people of Chinese descent. Share your thoughts from the event on social media and be part of the global discussion during the holiday.
5 Facts You Didn’t Know About The Chinese Spring Festival
Celebrating Chinese New Year outside China
Mauritius is the only country outside Asia that celebrates the Chinese New Year with a public holiday despite the Chinese community accounting for only about 3% of the population.
Largest human migration in the world
The Spring Festival represents the biggest human migration, with over 400 million people returning to their rural homes from across the country in China alone.
Animals and the Chinese Zodiac
Each year the Chinese Spring Festival celebration is represented by one of the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac.
Celebrations can last a whole month
The Chinese Spring Festival lasts for about 23 days, ending on the 15th day of the first lunar month on the Chinese calendar.
Iconic landmarks around the world like the Tokyo Tower and the London Eye will usually turn red to signify the start of the Chinese New Year celebration.
Why We Love Chinese Spring Festival
It continues an ancient tradition
The modern Chinese Spring Festival is a continuation of ancient Chinese autumn tradition. Before the new year celebration was established, ancient Chinese gathered and celebrated the end of the autumn harvest. During this period, people would clean millet-stack sites, toast guests with traditional Chinese red wine or mijiu, slaughter lambs, and go to their masters' homes to toast to them and cheer the prospect of living a long life together.
It keeps people of Chinese descent connected
According to the Chinese national population agency, there are over 50 million Chinese people outside of the territories of China. The Chinese diaspora represents some of the largest groups of foreign nationals of countries in Europe and North America. In Mauritius, that number is at least 30,000 people, and the Chinese Spring Festival serves as one of the ways to stay connected to Chinese tradition away from home.
It promotes unity
The Chinese Spring Festival has always promoted unity. The holiday is a time for families to gather around to enjoy a meal and stay hopeful for the new year. It is also the time of the year when the most gifts are shared.
Chinese Spring Festival dates