Chinese New Year, Spring Festival (Chunjie)

Written by Matteo Updated Feb. 1, 2024

Traditional Chinese New Year has a long history of more than 4000 years. Throughout the whole history, the Chinese attaches great importance to this festival. Chinese New Year 2024 or Spring Festival ( also called Chun Jie), falls on Saturday, February 10th, starting the Year of the Dragon.

Like Christmas for the western countries, the Chinese extremely enjoy the atmosphere of Spring Festival. There are various celebrations, traditions and superstitions associated with the festival.

At that time, the Chinese are going to:

Chinese New Year or Chunjie
Chinese New Year or Chunjie

How to Celebrate Chinese Spring Festival -Traditions & Activities

As we all know, there are 56 nationalities in China. Among them, ethnic minority embraces some minority customs with their characteristics to celebrate Chinese New Year, but most of activities are similar in different areas. These traditional activities can bring good luck in the coming year. The most popular celebrations are listed:

1. Housing Cleaning and Decoration with Red Color

Whether in the city or the countryside, people give their houses a thorough cleaning about half a month before the Spring Festival. Chinese people believe that cleaning the house before the new year will sweep away the bad luck of the last year and prepare their homes to receive good luck.

In the meantime, people decorate their houses with red color. Because red is the luckiest color in Chinese culture. The red color is believed to drive away evil spirits and bring good luck. So when the festival is coming, Chinese people hang red lanterns in front of their houses and paste red couplets on their doors.

Also read How to Decorate for Chinese New Year and Chinese Couplets for New Year.

Decrations for red color in Chunjie
Pasting spring couplets and hanging red lanterns in front of the house

2. Having a Family Reunion Dinner on Chinese New Years Eve

Chinese New Year is a time for a family reunion. The most important activity on Chinese New Years Eve is having a family reunion dinner. This reunion dinner is regarded as the most important meal of the entire year, and it is also a good opportunity for the whole family to get together, especially for the members who live away from their hometown.

Dishes at this reunion dinner are plentiful, and some of them have the symbol of lucky meanings. Food with lucky symbolic meanings is eaten during the festival. It is believed that eating lucky food will bring prosperity for the next year. On New Year's Eve, dishes such as fish, chicken, Chinese dumplings, etc are served at every Chinese family's dinner.

Chinese New Year 2024 decorations

3. Staying Up Late

Staying up late to welcome the new year's arrival on Chinese New Year's Eve is a very old tradition. After the reunion dinner, all family members sit together, chatting, singing, laughing, or playing cards, and stay up late until midnight.

Staying up late is said to bring longevity to people's parents. According to traditional Chinese customs, staying up on Chinese New Year's Eve brings longevity to parents. The longer you can stay awake, the longer your parents will live.

4. Watching Chinese New Year Gala

Chinese New Year Gala, also known as Spring Festival Gala, is the most important anticipated TV program in China every year. It is a traditional Chinese New Year celebration that features a variety of performances, including singing, dancing, comedy skits, and more.

At present, the rating of the Gala decreases from the north to the south of China. In the north, it is cold at night, so people can only stand indoors. However, the temperature in the south is not so low, and the people in the south engage in outdoor activities, such as shopping and barbecuing.

5. Giving Red Envelopes with Best Wishes

A red envelope containing lucky money symbolizes luck and wealth. Red envelopes with lucky money are usually given to the children as a gift on Chinese New Year's Eve. People believe that giving red envelopes to kids can keep the children safe and bring them good luck.

Since 2024 is the Year of Dragon. The dragon red envelopes must be the most popular. Learn more on how to give red envelopes.

red envelopes convey the besh wishes to those who receive them in Chunjie
Red envelopes in China

6. Wearing Chinese New Year Clothes

One of the most distinctive aspects of the Chinese New Year is the wearing of special clothes, which carry deep cultural and symbolic meanings. Chinese New Year clothes are often red, a color associated with luck and prosperity.

Red is considered auspicious in Chinese culture, and wearing red clothes is believed to bring good luck and ward off bad luck. This tradition dates back to ancient times, when red was associated with good fortune.

7. Setting Off Firework

Fireworks are set off as the New Year arrives. It is believed the loud fireworks can drive the evil spirits away and bring good luck to the family. Although many cities have banned fireworks, this tradition remains in the countryside.

The sound of exploding fireworks fills the air, accompanied by bright, colorful displays that illuminate the sky. The booms and flashes create an atmosphere of excitement and joy, bring people together in shared celebration.

8. Enjoying Lion Dances and Dragon Dances

Chinese lion dances and Dragon dances are traditional dances performed on big occasions such as the Chinese New Year and other traditional festivals to bring prosperity and good fortune. Both of them are ways to create a festive atmosphere and bring happiness. They play an important role in traditional Chinese culture and have been widely spread to other countries and regions.

9. Lantern Festival-the end of the Chinese New Year Festival

Lantern Festival falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month, and it falls on Feb. 24th in the year 2024.

In Chinese culture, as one of the most recreational among all festivals, the Lantern Festival marks the end of the Chinese New Year Festival. All the New Year celebrations stop from this day, and the New Year taboos are no longer in effect.

Chinese New Year 2024 decorations

The celebrations in the Lantern Festival include lighting colorful lanterns, enjoying a family reunion dinner, and eating tang yuan, and glutinous rice balls stuffed with sesame, peanut, and bean paste.

Read more on Top Chinese New Year Traditions and 10 Disappearing Chinese New Year Traditions.

Chinese New Year Festival Superstition-Things You Should Not Do

People believe the start of the year affects the whole year, so the Spring Festival is a season of superstitions. There are many unlucky things you should not do as doing these things always means you will have bad luck for the coming year.

To avoid bad luck, you should not:

Here are Chinese New Year Superstitions for further reading. 

Things you should not do during Chinese New Year

How to Say Happy Chinese New Year 2024

 Happy Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year 2024 is coming. You may eager to learn how to convey your sincere wish to your friends or relatives. Here are the several most popular ways to say "Happy Chinese New Year" in Chinese and Cantonese.

Mandarin: xīn nián hǎo

Cantonese: san1 nin4 hou2

Mandarin: guò nián hǎo

Cantonese: gwo3 nin4 hou2

Mandarin: xīn nián kuài lè

Cantonese: san1 nin4 faai3 lok6

Mandarin: lóng nián kuài lè

Cantonese: lung4 nin4 faai3 lok6

Mandarin: lóng nián dà jí

Cantonese: lung4 nin4 daai6 gat1

Read more Popular New Year Wishes and Greetings for 2024, and How to Say Happy New Year in Chinese and Cantonese.

Lucky Chinese New Year Food

Chinese New Year is the most significant traditional holiday in China, and it is also a time for family reunions. Food is an essential part of the celebration, and many traditional dishes are prepared during this festival. For example:

chinese new year greetings 2024

Fish is a delicious and nutritious food beloved by many. It carries the symbolic meaning of surplus year after year, signifying abundance and wealth. On significant occasions, fish is often featured as one of the important dishes, embodying wishes for blessings and good luck.

Chicken is also regarded as a symbol of auspiciousness and prosperity. Chicken is rich in protein and vitamins, helping to maintain good health.

Pork is a classic Chinese dish, renowned for its rich and unique flavor. It symbolizes happiness and prosperity. Due to its bright color, signifying joy and auspiciousness.

shrimp is considered a symbol of wealth, prosperity, and good luck. The red color of the shrimp represents joy and auspiciousness. Therefore, shrimp is not just a delicious food, but also a deeply symbolic one.

Jiaozi or Chinese Dumpling, a Chinese traditional food, symbolizes unity and harmony, as they are often made and enjoyed together during family gatherings.

Spring Roll, a kind of snack, renowned for its crisp wrapper and rich filling. They symbolize the arrival of spring and a new beginning.

Niangao is a kind of sticky rice cake, which symbolizes advancement and success because its pronunciation is similar to Chinese character 年高.

Longevity Noodles consist of long, thin noodles and various ingredient, symbolizing longevity and immorality. The significance of these noodles is deeply rooted in people's desire for a long and happy life.

Celery is not the main food in Chinese New Year, but it can be combined with others, such as chicken, pork or egg. It symbolizes hard work and achievement.

Lettuce, also known as Sang Choi in Cantonese, symbolizes good fortune. It is often used as an ingredient in various dishes and is also displayed as a decoration in reunion dinners.

Garlic chives, also known as Jiu Cai, symbolize long-lasting relationships. The pronunciation of Jiu is similar to the word everlasting in English.

All in all, Chinese New Year is a time for family reunions and celebrating with food. The dishes prepared during this festival symbolize wealth, prosperity and success, and they are an essential part of the celebration.

See more on Chinese New Year Dishes to learn more lucky festive dishes!

How long is Chinese New Year 2024

The Chinese New lasts about 15 days until the end of Lantern Festival, which is on Feb 24 in 2024 for the Year of Dragon. Laba marks the beginning of spring festival. At that time, families gather to share porridge and pray for a lucky and auspicious year.

Chinese New Year Day-by-Day Celebrations

Chinese Little New Year, usually seven days before the Spring Festival, falls on February in 2024. It also called the festival of the Kitchen God, because Chinese worship the God who brings health and affords enough food. Besides, people are about to clean their homes to welcome the Chinese New Year.

On New Year's Eve, Chinese often paste spring couplets in the doors and sit down together to enjoy a sumptuous reunion dinner while watching the Spring Festival Gala, celebrating the arrival of the New Year.

After New Year's Eve, it is the first day of Spring Festival. Chinese get up early, set off firecrackers to celebrate the coming year. The junior will receive red envelopes from the senior for good health and progress in study.

On the second day, it known as Visiting  Day. Daughter and son-in-law visit their parents' home, bring gifts and wishes to celebrate the New Year.

On the third day, people often host family gathering at home, inviting relatives and friends to celebrate the New Year together. They can enjoy delicious food, chat, play cards, watch TV, and spend a happy day together.

On the fourth and fifth day, people welcome Stove and Wealth God for a prosperous life in the New Year.

On the sixth day, people clean their homes. The main reason for this is to send away the poverty and pray for good luck and prosperity in the coming Year.

On the seventh day, people drink Qibao porridge that made of seven kinds of vegetables, including spinach, celery, lettuce, radish, bamboo shoot, snow pea and Chinese kale. They believe that the porridge can bring good luck in daily life.

On the eighth day, setting animals free is popular at that day. It originated from the concept of no killing in Buddhism. In addition to releasing animals, adults begin to return to their workplaces to save money for supporting family.

Lantern Festival is the last day of Spring Festival. Chinese usually taste Tang yuan, a kind of round food made of rice. In addition, guessing lantern riddles and walking on stilts are interesting game at that moment.

Except for activities mentioned above, the celebrations are colorful in China. Here are more detail for Chinese New Year Day-by-Day Celebration

Chinese New Year 2024 Holiday

The Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar. The Chinese New Year date is different every year, but it is almost in January or February. 

Chinese New Year 2024 holiday

It is a public holiday in China. In 2024, Chinese people get 8 days off from work, from Feb 10 to 17. About 15 days before the holiday, there will be a Spring Festival Travel Rush or Chunyun, namely, people far away from their hometowns bound for their homes to reunite with their families. At this moment, railway stations, airports, and highways are more crowded than before.

Here are more about Chinese Lunar New Year and Chinese New Year Dates for your information.

Lunar New Year 2024  Animal-Year of the Dragon

Every Chinese New Year starts with an animal sign. According to the Chinese zodiac circle, 2024 is the Year of the Dragon. Other years of the Dragon include 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, and 2012. In Chinese culture, dragon represents power, authority and good luck, therefore, people are going to make a great improvement in their business and academy in 2024.

 Chinese Zodiac

There are 12 Chinese zodiac animals: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. Each year is associated with an animal with its attributes.

Lunar New Year Celebrations Around the World

Chinese New Year has been spread around the world, so other countries celebrate Spring Festival in their ways, such as Singapore, Japan, the UK and Australia.

lunar new year around the world

In Singapore, two oranges are the most popular gift in Spring Festival because they can bring a auspicious life in the coming year. Meanwhile, it also has the meaning of good news in pair. Therefore, oranges are often out of stock in New Year.

In Malaysia, Chinese New Year is public and is celebrated with much enthusiasm. Colorful dragon and lion dances are a common sight, and family gather together to feast on traditional dishes like dumplings, fish and chicken.

In Korea, the Lunar New Year is a national holiday. Similar to Chines celebrations, families come together to enjoy a reunion dinner, often featuring pork and fish. People often visit temples to pay for good luck.

In America, Chinese New Year is celebrated by the Chinese American community across the country. Parades, fireworks and dragon dances are organized in major cities. In San Francisco, Chinese New Year Parade 2024 will be held at Second and Market streets on Feb 24th, 2024. 

In Canada, restaurants often offer special menus for Chinese New Year, and some even host special events for promotions.

In Japan, hanging a mystery bag at New Year is a traditional custom. A bag fills with various products and sold at a discount price on the first day of Spring Festival.

In the UK, many activities are held to celebrate Chinese New Year, such as Chinese costume show, dragon and lion dance. Besides, parades are a local celebration around Chinatown and London City.

In Australia, major cities will hold various Chinese New Year celebrations, including street performances, concerts, lantern festival and so on, allowing people to feel the atmosphere of the New Year.

Chinese New Year for Kids

For children, many activities and celebrations are prepared for them in Chinese New Year. However, the Spring Festival is a normal day for many adults because they cannot find the fun of the new year in their childhood.

The most exciting part is that children will receive red envelopes filled with lucky money, which represents the best wishes from givers.

Here are the most exciting facts for kids in the Chinese New Year.

A Story Behind Chinese New Year

the monster, also known as Nian
Children set off firecrackers to repel the Monster (Nian).

It is said that there is a hideous monster Nian. It comes every New Year to destroy crops and even capture children. People are frightened to hide in their homes, but later they discover this monster is afraid of red color, loud noise, especially firecrackers.

Therefore, people will paste spring couplets on the door and hand red lanterns in the New Year. In addition, they will set off firecrackers during the day and fireworks at night to drive away the monster.

Actually, stories related to the Chinese New Year are assorted.

Spring Festival Travel

Nowadays, some Chinese choose to travel with their families or friends during the Chinese New Year, which is called Chinese New Year travel. They often visit scenic spots and historical sites, taking in the beauty of nature and learning about their cultural heritage. Travel also provides an opportunity for people to relax, away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Here are some tips for travel in the Chinese New Year.

You can plan a trip to China in your free time. Please contact us if you need help.

Chinese New Year FAQs

Q1: How Long is Chinese New Year celebrated?
A1: Chunjie usually lasts about 2 weeks from Chinese Little Year to Lantern Festival.

Q2: Who celebrates Chunjie?
A2: Chinese people and Sinophone communities.

Q3: What do Chinese people do on Chunjie?
A3: Chinese people paste Spring Festival couplets on the doors and red lanterns in front of their houses. On Chinese New Year‘s Eve, they also enjoy a reunion dinner and watch the Chinese New Year Gala.

Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year 2024

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