Chinese New Year Celebrations 2022: 15-Day Traditional Activities
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 2022, the celebration starts on January 31st and ends on February 15th.
Eating Family Reunion Dinners - Chinese New Year's Eve
With a history of 2,000 years or so, Chinese New Year's Eve, which falls on the last day of the year according to the Chinese lunar calendar, is called "除夕 chú xī" in Chinese.
The reunion dinner has resulted in the world's largest migration of people every year, so make your plans in advance!
What to Eat
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 which 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. Check Chinese New Year Food to know more propitious dishes.
What to Do
On this day there are many different traditions.
- Prior to New Year's Eve, people will clean and shop for decorations and snacks.
- Just prior to the Family Reunion Dinner, people will put up their New Year's decorations and offer sacrifices of meat, wine, fruit, and incense sticks that are placed on their ancestors' shrines or graves.
- During and after the dinner, people will stay up late, watch the CCTV Gala, and give red envelopes (红包 hóng bāo), full of lucky money - red is a color symbolizing good luck in China. Some people will go to large squares or even mountain-top temples to hear large bells ringing in the new year.
Setting Off Firecrackers - Day 1
On the morning of the first day of the Spring Festival, families first set off some firecrackers before going out, in order to drive away evil spirits.
In ancient times, the most important thing for the Chinese on this day was to "bài nián" ( to wish a happy New Year) – people paid visits to relatives, friends, and neighbors, and to people of the older generations.
But now, young people prefer to hang out for shopping, partying, or singing karaoke, while the elders usually stay at home and exchange gossip with their neighbors.
Welcoming Sons-in-Law - Day 2
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.
Day 3: Staying at Home
In 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.
Day 4: 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, and fish, chicken, and pork for their meals on this day.
Day 5: Welcome the God of Fortune
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.
Day 6: Driving Away the Ghost of Poverty
On the sixth day, people usually throw away their ragged clothes, rubbish, and clean their homes, hoping to drive the ghost of poverty away and to welcome a prosperous and successful new year.
Day 7: Celebrating the Birthday of Human Beings
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 no fire-related disasters in the year ahead.
Day 8: Celebrating the Birthday of Millet
The eighth day is believed to be the birthday of millet, an important crop in ancient China. According to folk proverbs, if this day is bright and clear, then the year will bring forth a good harvest; otherwise, the year will suffer a poor harvest.
Day 9: Celebrating the Birthday of the Jade Emperor
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.
- Setting off firecrackers continuously from midnight on the eighth day of Chinese New Year to 4:00 AM on the 9th day.
- Offering sacrifices to the Jade Emperor, before which the whole family will first take a shower as a sign of respect to the Emperor.
Day 10: 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: 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 leftover 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: Preparing for the Lantern Festival
Families buy lanterns and build a lantern shack to prepare for the Lantern Festival.
Day 15: Celebrating the Lantern Festival
On this day, people light lanterns and send them off.
In a tradition dating back to the Song dynasty, people will write poem riddles on lanterns, and those who can solve them will sometimes receive prizes from the owners of the lanterns.
The lantern time was a special time when unmarried young men and women could meet. People eat rice balls with fillings to celebrate and usher in a prosperous and lucky new year.
See more about the Lantern Festival.