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Chinese New Year 2020 - The Year of the Rat

Dates of Chinese New Year Celebration in 2020: Jan. 24th, 2020 (Chinese New Year's Eve) to Feb. 8th, 2020 (Lantern Festival).

Chinese New Year in 2020 falls on Saturday January 25th, being the start of the Year of the Rat. The year ends on February 11th, 2021 according to the Chinese lunar calendar.

When Is Chinese New Year?

With over 4,000 years of history, Chinese New Year, also called Spring Festival, remains the most important cultural holiday for Chinese people.

The festival begins officially on the first day of the first lunar month (usually in late January or early February) and ends on the 15th day of the first lunar month (the Lantern Festival), thus lasting 15 days.

Why Do Chinese People Celebrate Chinese New Year?

Chinese New Year is a time to celebrate good luck during the previous year and to wish for a prosperous new year.

Family Reunion Dinner Family Reunion Dinner

Celebrations include having an annual reunion dinner on Chinese New Year's Eve, setting off firecrackers, giving lucky money to children, ringing the New Year bell, sending Chinese New Year greetings, dragon and lion dancing, and Niu Yangge (traditional dances in northern China).

Traditional Customs for Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is a time to:

  • get rid of the old and make way for the new;
  • worship Heaven and pray for a bumper harvest year;
  • reunite the whole family and honor the ancestors;
  • participate in all kinds of creativity and having fun…

What with integrating prayers, celebrations and entertainment, Chinese New Year is a grand occasion for the Chinese nation. To this day, apart from activities for worshiping gods, which are downplayed, the major customs for Chinese New Year are well preserved and developed:

House Cleaning

With the intention of sweeping all rotten luck out the door, house-cleaning means doing away with the “old” and preparing for the “new”.

House Decorations

Among the house decorations are auspicious couplets posted on doors, in the hope of attracting good luck.


Hung on the columns of a hall on lunar New Year’s Eve, couplets mostly describe the bustling atmosphere during the festival and express people’s hopes for prosperity in the New Year.

Family Reunion Dinner

The feast on New Year’s Eve is a “compulsory" banquet, with all family members getting together.

Waiting for the First Bell to Ring

Chinese people believe that the ringing of a huge bell can drive bad luck away and bring good fortune.

Staying up Late ("Shousui")

After the great dinner, families often sit together and chat happily, to welcome in the New Year.

Setting Off Firecrackers

Creating a lovely festive atmosphere, firecrackers used to be an indispensable custom at Spring Festival

New Year’s Greetings (Bai Nian)

Everyone wears new clothes and greets relatives and friends with bows and gongxi (congratulations) on the first day of the New Year, wishing each other good luck and happiness in the year ahead.

Lucky Money (Hong Bao or Red Envelopes)

With the hope of bringing good luck and warding off monsters, lucky money is given to kids by their parents and grandparents, as New Year gifts.

Click here for more details.

Minority Ethnic Groups’ Customs for Chinese New Year

Ethnic Minority Customs
Zhuang Singing ballads, playing peg-tops, dancing, ball games, and operas
Tibetan Worshiping mountain and river gods with colorful flags and hanging streamers, on the third day of New Year
Mongolian Toasting and presenting hada to each other as a greeting gift in the early morning of New Year’s Day
Bai Exchanging gifts, visiting relatives, folk dancing
Buyi Girls vying to carry water from the river in the early morning of New Year’s Day
Korean Young and old indulging in singing and dancing, seesawing and tug-of-war
Daur Playing hockey and fancy ball, listening to storytelling
Gaoshan Dressing in ethnic costume, gathering and drinking wine, singing and dancing with music, convening sports
Hezhen Teenagers indulging in skiing, grass-target shooting, spearing grass balls
She Pounding glutinous rice cakes
Tujia Folk dancing, dragon and lion dancing, performing local operas
Wa Gathering at the square and dancing in a circl

Click here for more details about Minority Customs for Spring Festival.

Day-by-Day Celebrations

Date Celebrations
The 23rd or 24th day of the last lunar month (“Xiǎo Nián” 小年) Worshipping the Kitchen God, cleaning houses
Chinese New Year’s Eve (“Chú Xī”除夕) Pasting couplets,  enjoying a family reunion dinner, playing cards, playing Mahjong, watching the CCTV New Year’s Gala
Day 1 Lighting firecrackers, visiting older people and wishing them a happy New Year (“Bài Nián”, 拜年
Day 2 (“Kāi Nián”开年) Offering sacrifices to the God of Fortune and married daughters visiting parental homes with their husbands
Day 3 Staying at home
Day 4 (“Yáng Rì羊日, the Day of the Goat) Welcoming and worshipping gods, collecting and throwing out all rubbish
Day 5 (“Pò Wǔ破五,) Celebrating the birthday of the God of Fortune, with a large banquet
Day 6 Banishing the ghost of poverty
Day 7 (“Rén Rì人日, the day of the human) Eating Qī Bǎo Gēng七宝羹, dispelling fire disasters
Day 8 celebrating the birthday of millet
Day 9 celebrating the birthday of the Jade Emperor, the supreme Deity of Taoism
Day 10 (“Shí Bú Dòng”石不动) the birthday of the god of stone, not moving any stone
Day 11 fathers-in-law entertaining sons-in-law
Day 12 preparing for the Lantern Festival
Day 15 (“Yuán Xiāo Jié元宵节) Eating Tāng Yuán 汤圆, dragon dancing and lion dancing parades in the streets, seeing lanterns

Click here for more details about Celebrations.



Click here for more details about Taboos.


Family Reunion Dinner:
Southern China – typically steamed fish, Cantonese poached chicken, and red braised pork
Northern China – mostly hotpot, noodles, dumplings, and New Year’s cake (Nián Gāo)

Other Festive Food:
Laba Porridge – the 8th day of the last lunar month
Sticky Rice Dumplings (Tāng Yuán 汤圆) – the Lantern Festival

Making Tangyuan Making and eating Tangyuan, aka Sweet Rice Balls or Sweet Soup Dumplings

Click here for more about Chinese New Year Food.


Spring Festival is also called Guo Nian in Chinese. “Guo” means to pass over and “Nian” or "Year" in Chinese refers to a mythical beast that will bring bad luck.

There was a big horned monster called Nian living all year at the bottom of the sea, but coming out on Spring Festival Eve to devour all kinds of things and villagers, especially children. So people would flee from their homes to remote mountains, to escape the danger…

Click Chinese New Year Legends to see the complete story.

Modern Culture

Spring Festival Travel Season

The Spring Festival Travel Season, also referred to “Chūn Yùn” 春运, is a period of busy travel around Chinese New Year, with extremely heavy traffic. The phrase was first coined in the People’s Daily newspaper, in 1980.

Chunyun Busy travel season at a railway station around Chinese New Year

The period usually begins 15 days before lunar New Year’s Day, and lasts a total of 40 days. The Spring Rush in 2020 will be from January 10 to February 19, during which train and bus tickets will be in great demand.

Want to know more? Click Spring Rush.

CCTV New Year’s Gala

The CCTV New Year’s Gala, often referred to “Chūn Wǎn” 春晚, is a variety entertainment show with a combination of modern media and folk customs.

Since 1983 when it was first broadcast, four hours before the beginning of New Year, the Gala has become the “new folklore, new culture” of the Chinese, and a must-see TV show on New Year’s Eve.

Since its inception, it has been the most watched television program in China. It has also been accredited in the Guinness Book of Records as the national TV show with the largest audience in the world.

Click New Year Gala to learn more information.

Chinese New Year Dates

Year Date Chinese Zodiac Chinese Lunar Years with the Same Zodiac
2019 February 5th (Tuesday) Pig 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019
2020 January 25th (Saturday) Rat 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020
2021 February 12th (Friday) Ox 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021
2022 February 1st (Tuesday) Tiger 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022
2023 January 22nd (Wednesday) Rabbit 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023
2024 February 10th (Saturday) Dragon 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024
2025 February 29th (Wednesday) Snake 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025

Click here for more details.


xīn nián kuài lè 新年快乐! Happy New Year!
gōng xǐ fā cái 恭喜发财! Wishing you a prosperous New Year!
hé jiā huān lè 阖家欢乐! Wishing you a happy family!
cái yuán guǎng jìn 财源广进! Wishing you plentiful money and treasures!
zhù nǐ xīn de yì nián wàn shì rú yì
May everything turn out as you wish in the coming year!

Click here to see more Chinese New Year Greetings.

Travel Tips

Traveling China during the Spring Festival period has both advantages and disadvantages. We recommend you have a look at Chinese New Year Travel Tips.

Travel Destinations

Destination Celebration Activities or Venues During Chinese New Year
Beijing Spring Festival carnivals, Peking Opera, acrobatics shows, tea culture displays
Hong Kong Chinese New Year Night Parade, New Year Fireworks Display, New Year Flower Market, Chinese New Year Horse Racing
Harbin Go skiing and see Harbin Ice and Snow World
Chengdu Watch Sichuan Face-Changing Opera, play Mahjong while drinking tea
Shanghai Full of parties, a large-scale of fireworks display on New Year’s Eve
Yunnan See Yuanyang Terraced Fields, Red Fields in Dongchuan and Luoping Cole Flowers Fields

Click here for more details about Top Chinese New Year Destinations.