Chinese New Year Celebrations 2023: 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 2023, the celebration starts on Jan. 21st and ends on Feb. 5th.
|30th of the 12th month (Chinese New Year's Eve)||Jan. 21, 2023||Decorate houses, Have reunion dinners, Watch CCTV gala, Stay up late|
|1st of the 1st month
(Chinese New Year's Day)
|Jan. 22, 2023||Set off firecrackers, Give red envelopes, Enjoy Lion dances|
|Day 2||Jan. 23, 2023||Welcome sons-in-law|
|Day 3||Jan. 24, 2023||Stay at home|
|Day 4||Jan. 25, 2023||Welcome Stove God|
|Day 5||Jan. 26, 2023||Welcome Wealth God|
|Day 6||Jan. 27, 2023||Clean houses|
|Day 7||Jan. 28, 2023||Eat Qibao porridge|
|Day 8||Jan. 29, 2023||Set animals free, Return work|
|Day 9||Jan. 30, 2023||Set off firecrackers, Offer sacrifices|
|Day 10||Jan. 31, 2023||Celebrate the birthday of Stone God|
|Day 11||Feb. 1, 2023||Fathers-in-law entertain sons-in-law|
|Day 12-14||Feb. 2-4, 2023||Prepare for the Lantern Festival|
|15th of the 1st month (Lantern Festival)||Feb. 5, 2023||Light lanterns, Guess lantern riddles, Eat Tangyuan, Set off fireworks|
Pre-Chinese New Year Celebrations (Dec. 30, 2022, to Jan. 21, 2023)
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 (Jan. 21, 2023): 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.
1. Putting Up New Year Decorations
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
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 (Jan. 22, 2023) 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: (Jan. 23, 2023): 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.
The3rd Day: (Jan. 24, 2023): 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.
Learn more traditional taboos on the new year on Chinese New Year Superstitions.
The 4th Day: (Jan. 25, 2023): 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.
5th Day: (Jan. 26, 2023): 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 (Jan. 27, 2023): 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
The 7th Day (Jan. 28, 2023): 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 no fire-related disasters in the year ahead.
The 8th Day (Jan. 29, 2023)
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 (Jan. 30, 2023): 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 (Jan. 31, 2023): 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. 1, 2023): 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. 2-4, 2023): Preparing for the Lantern Festival
Families buy lanterns and build a lantern shack to prepare for the Lantern Festival.
Day 15 (Feb. 5, 2023): 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.
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.
Lantern Festival is not only a family reunion time but also 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.