Chinese New Year Celebrations 2024: 15-Day Traditional Activities

Written by Matteo Updated Apr. 3, 2021

Chinese people do a lot of traditional activities to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The celebration usually lasts 16 days, from New Year's Eve to the 15th day of the New Year – the Lantern Festival. In 2024, the celebration starts on Feb. 9th and ends on Feb. 24th

Chinese New Year's Day Gregorian Dates Activities
30th of the 12th month (Chinese New Year's Eve) Feb. 9, 2024 Decorate houses, Have reunion dinners, Watch CCTV gala, Stay up late
1st of the 1st month
(Chinese New Year's Day)
Feb. 10, 2024 Set off firecrackers, Give red envelopes, Enjoy Lion dances
Day 2 Feb. 11, 2024 Welcome sons-in-law
Day 3 Feb. 12, 2024 Stay at home
Day 4 Feb. 13, 2023 Welcome Stove God
Day 5 Feb. 14, 2024 Welcome Wealth God
Day 6 Feb. 15, 2024 Clean houses
Day 7 Feb. 16, 2024 Eat Qibao porridge
Day 8 Feb. 17, 2024 Set animals free, Return work
Day 9 Feb. 18, 2024 Set off firecrackers, Offer sacrifices
Day 10 Feb. 19, 2024 Celebrate the birthday of Stone God
Day 11 Feb. 20, 2023 Fathers-in-law entertain sons-in-law
Day 12-14 Feb. 21-23, 2024 Prepare for the Lantern Festival
15th of the 1st month (Lantern Festival) Feb. 24, 2024 Light lanterns, Guess lantern riddles, Eat Tangyuan, Set off fireworks

Pre-Chinese New Year Celebrations (Jan. 18, 2024, to Feb. 9, 2024)

Chinese New Year is the most important traditional festival in China. People usually prepare for it early before New Year’s Eve.

Chinese New Year's Eve (Feb. 9, 2024): 6 Traditions and Activities

As the last day of the lunar year, Chinese New Year's Eve (除夕 chú xī) is the day before Chinese New Year. It is a grand reunion time for the whole Chinese family. People will participate in activities lots of activities to celebrate the coming new year.

Chinese New Year's Eve Traditions
Chinese New Year's Eve Traditions

1. Putting Up New Year Decorations

Spring Couplets

Putting up Spring Couplets

People believe that auspicious decorations can drive away evil spirits and bring good luck. 

On Chinese New Year’s Eve, Chinese people will hang red lanterns in front of their houses, put on Chinese New Year couplets on doors, and put flowers with lucky symbols inside their houses.

Find more New Year lucky things on Chinese New Year Decoration.

2. Worshiping Ancestors

Chinese people believe their ancestors underground also need to have a great time for the New Year. Their ancestors need to eat before themselves.

To worship ancestors, Usually, before the family reunion dinner, people offer sacrifices of meat, wine, fruit, and incense sticks that are placed on their ancestors' shrines or graves.

3. Having a Reunion Dinner with Family

Reunion Dinner

Reunion Dinner

Despite the many regional differences in culture and customs, most of China has similar beliefs concerning the New Year's meal. New Year's foods represent what should come in the next year: fish, dumplings, rice cakes, and fruits – all represent wealth and prosperity.

Rice cakes in particular can represent a higher position or status. Sweet Rice Balls are eaten for family togetherness, and noodles are eaten for longevity. 

4. Giving Red Envelopes

People will give red envelopes (红包 hóng bāo), full of lucky money to their children, wishing them health, growth, and happiness in the coming year.

6. Staying Up Late

Staying up late or all night on Chinese New Year's Eve is called "守岁 (shǒu suì)" in Chinese. After the grand reunion dinner, all family members will sit together, chatting, playing cards or mahjong, and watch the Spring Festival gala to welcome the arrival of the new year.

Some people will go to squares or even mountain-top temples to hear bells ringing at the end of the old year or the beginning of the new year.

Chinese New Year's Day (Feb. 10, 2024) Celebrations

New Year's Day is the most important day of the year. To have a happy and prosperous new year, Chinese people will do the luckiest things on this day. 

1. Setting Off Firecrackers and Fireworks

Chinese people believe that fire and loudness can dispel bad luck, and scare away evil spirits.

On the morning of the first day of the lunar new year, people will set off firecrackers once they open the door in the early morning of New Year's Day. The earlier, the better.

Setting off fireworks is to bring good luck and fortune into the family, it is called "开财门" kāi cái mén (open the door of fortune).

2. Putting on New Clothes

People will put on new clothes on New Year's Day. Mostly, the color for the new clothes is red as red is thought to be the luckiest color in Chinese culture. Wearing red clothes is believed to bring good fortune.

Read Chinese New Year Clothes to know more clothes styles for the new year.

3. Greeting Each Other Happy New Year

Each word you say on New Year's day matters, so the most important words to say to each other are Happy New Year. It is customary for the younger generations to visit the older generations on this day and wish them good health. 

4. Watching Lion Dance and Dragon Dance Performance

The lion and dragon symbolize power in Chinese culture. People believe that performing the lion dance and dragon dance can scare away evil spirits and bring good fortune.

The 2nd Day: (Feb. 11, 2024): Welcoming Sons-in-Law

Welcoming Sons-in-Law

This is the day for welcoming sons-in-law or visiting the wife's family. On this day, married daughters visit their parents' homes with their husbands. Specific traditions vary from place to place in China, but usually, they bring gifts and red envelopes for the children in their family's home. Daughters and sons-in-law will typically have lunch in their parents' homes.

The 3rd Day: (Feb. 12, 2024): Staying at Home

In the old days, the third day of Chinese New Year was considered an ominous day, so people usually didn't go out. There were many traditional taboos, such as cleaning the house, making a fire, having arguments, drawing water, visiting others, and so on.

With the progress of time, however, fewer and fewer people believe in such superstitions. More and more people just take this day as a normal holiday to have fun with their families.

Learn more traditional taboos on the new year on Chinese New Year Superstitions.

The 4th Day:  (Feb. 13, 2024): Welcoming the Kitchen Gods

The fourth day, on the other hand, is considered an auspicious day: a day to welcome the Kitchen God as he returns from heaven to earth.

Families burn incense and light candles to welcome the gods. Families also prepare fruits, alcohol, fish, chicken, and pork for their meals on this day.

The 5th Day: (Feb. 14, 2024): Welcoming the God of Wealth

This day is believed to be the birthday of the God of Fortune. People will welcome the Fortune God to their houses.

People will celebrate with a large banquet. They will also keep their doors or windows open as a welcoming gesture towards the God of Fortune, setting firecrackers in an attempt to attract the attention of the God of Fortune, thus ensuring his favor and good fortune for themselves and their families year ahead.

The 6th Day (Feb. 15, 2024): Driving Away the Ghost of Poverty

On the sixth day, people usually throw away their ragged clothes, and rubbish, and clean their homes, hoping to drive the ghost of poverty away and welcome a prosperous new year

The 7th Day (Feb. 16, 2024): Eating Qibao Porridge

According to legend, the mother goddess Nu Wa created human beings on the seventh day, so the seventh day of the Chinese New Year is commonly referred to as "rén rì", the day human beings were created.

People in some regions eat a thick soup with seven kinds of vegetables on this day to ward off misfortune and disease.

In some rural places in east China, people make torches with straw, light them, and send them out of the village, to express their wish that there will be no fire-related disasters in the year ahead.

The 8th Day (Feb. 17, 2024)

This day is to celebrate the birthday of millet.

Millet is an important crop in ancient China. According to folk proverbs, if the weather on this day is bright and clear, there will be a good harvest; otherwise, the year will suffer a poor harvest.

Some people will set animals such as fish and birds free to show respect for nature.

After a 7-day celebration for the Chinese New Year, most people return to work on the eighth day. Bosses will give staff red envelopes (hongbao in Mandarin or lai see in Cantonese), which means that the team can make profits all year.

Day 9 (Feb. 18, 2024): Celebrating the Birthday of the Jade Emperor

taboos on the ninth day

The ninth day is the birthday of the Jade Emperor (the Supreme Deity of Taoism). According to Taoist legend, all the deities of heaven and earth celebrate this day, and there are grand ceremonies in Taoist temples.

Activities include:

Day 10 (Feb. 19, 2024): Celebrating the Birthday of the God of Stone

The tenth day is the birthday of the god of stone. On this day, it is forbidden to move any stone, including stone rollers, stone mills, and stone mortars.

In addition, it is also forbidden to cut into mountain rocks or to build a house with rocks, or bad things will happen to their crops. On this day, families burn incense and candles to honor stone and offer pancakes to the god of stone.

Day 11 (Feb. 20, 2024): Fathers-in-Law Entertaining Sons-in-Law

The eleventh day is for fathers-in-law to entertain their sons-in-law. There is a lot of food left over from celebrating the birthday of the Jade Emperor, so the leftover food is eaten on this day.

People in some regions hold the dragon dance on this day, and the dance is always accompanied by firecrackers.

Day 12-14 (Feb. 21-23, 2024): Preparing for the Lantern Festival

Families buy lanterns and build a lantern shack to prepare for the Lantern Festival.

Day 15 (Feb. 24, 2024): Lantern Festival

The 15th day of the Chinese New Year is the Lantern Festival (元宵节 yuán xiāo jié). It traditionally marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebration.

The popular activities on this day are lighting up lanterns, guessing lantern riddles, eating yuan xiao (a kind of rice ball), and enjoying time with families or lovers.

Lantern Festival Traditions
Lantern Festival Traditions

In a tradition dating back to the Song dynasty, people would write poem riddles on lanterns, and those who could solve them would sometimes receive prizes from the owners of the lanterns.

Lantern Festival is not only a family reunion time but also a special time when unmarried young men and women can meet. People eat rice balls with fillings to celebrate and usher in a prosperous and lucky new year.

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