Chinese Spring Festival 2015: Tradition, History, Day-By-Day Guide
|The Date Is
Based on the Lunar Calendar
Chinese New Year
2015 begins on Thursday 19 February, and end on 5 March. It
is day one month one of the Chinese lunar calendar, and its date
in January or February varies from year to year (always
somewhere in the period January 21 to February 20).
The Chinese lunar calendar is
associated with the Chinese zodiac, which has 12 animal
signs: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat,
monkey, Rooster, dog, and pig. Each animal represents a year in
a 12-year cycle, beginning on Chinese New Year's Day. 2015 is a
year of the goat.
2015 — a Goat Year (“Wood
2015 is a year
of the “Goat” according to the Chinese 12-year animal zodiac
(Heavenly Stem) cycle. If you were born in a Goat year you
should be particularly careful in 2015, according to Chinese
astrology. See more on how to be lucky in the year of the
2015 is furthermore a year of
the “Wood Goat”, according to Chinese Five Element (Earthly
Branch) Theory. A “Wood Goat” year occurs every 60 years.
See a Five Element Character and Destiny Analysis for
People Born in a Year of the Goat.
12 Chinese zodiac animal
signs. Read more on Chinese zodiac
What China's New Year Festival Is
The Longest Public Holiday in China
In 2015 most Chinese will be off work
from Wednesday, February 18 (New Year's Eve) to Tuesday, February 24
(the 6th day of Chinese New Year).
Officially only the first three days of
Chinese New Year (February 19–21, 2015) are statutory holiday. Chinese
New Year's Eve and three more days are always added to give seven
consecutive days of holiday. These four extra days are taken from
weekends: the weekend closest to the statutory holiday is included,
while the Sunday before (February 15, 2015) and the Saturday after
(February 28, 2015) are worked.
A Festival for Families to Be
New Year is a time for families to be together. Wherever they
are, people come home to celebrate the festival with their
The New Year's Eve dinner is
called Reunion Dinner, and is believed to be the most
important meal of the year. Big families – families of several
generations sit around round tables and enjoy the food and time
The importance of reunion
during the Spring Festival has caused somedifficult
situations for China's increasingly women's lib. couples in
recent years, who want to go to different homes for the
festival. Divorce has happened because of disputes over going to
whose home for the festival. (In the past a married couple would
always go to the man's home unless the husband joined the wife's
family at marriage.)
Chinese New Year's Reunion
How Chinese New Year Is Celebrated
Spring Festival History
The Spring Festival has a history of
more than 4,000 years. It is said that it originated from a belief in
deities that had to be sacrificed to every year. When the solar terms
changed, dictating farming activities, especially at the end of a year,
people would sacrifice to the deities and pray for a good harvest
Seen Cultural Activities to See
Many cultural activities occur during
the festival. Rural areas and small towns retain more
traditional celebrations, such as setting offfirecrackers,
ancestor worship, and dragon dances. Setting off
firecrackers and fireworks are common during the Spring Festival
season all over China; dragon dances and ancestor worship less
so in the city.At temple fairs in many Chinese cities
traditional performances can be seen: dragon dances, lion
dances, and performances representing palace events like an
emperor's wedding. A great variety of traditional Chinese
products are on offer there, and strange Chinese snacks, rarely
seen the rest of the year. Beijing's temple fairs are
held in parks from the first day of the lunar year to the
Lantern Festival. In North China people perform various
versions of the Rice Sprout Song(扭秧歌
Gē ‘twist sprout song'), a traditional Chinese dance
performed by a group of colorfully-dressed women and men.
Chinese New Year lion dance
Every street, building, and
house is decorated with red. “Red” is the main color
for the festival, as it is believed to be an auspicious color.
Red lanterns hang in streets; red couplets are pasted on doors;
banks and official buildings are decorated with red New Year
pictures depicting images of prosperity.As 2015 is the year of
goat, decorations related to goats will be commonly
seen. There are red goat dolls for children and New Year
paintings with goats on. Read more on Chinese New Year
Red Envelopes — the Most
Like Christmas in the West,
people exchange gifts during the Spring Festival. The most
common gifts are red envelopes. Red envelopes have money in, and
are given to children and (retired) seniors. It is not a customs
to give red envelopes to (working) adults.Read more on Chinese
New Year Gift Ideas
lanterns hang in a park in Beijing
with Lucky Meanings Are Eaten
Certain foods are eaten during
the festival because of their symbolic meanings, based on their
names or appearance.
Fish is a must for Chinese
New Year as the Chinese word for fish (鱼
sounds like the word for surplus (余
Eating fish is believed to bring a surplus of money and good
luck in the coming year.
traditional Chinese New Year food is Chinese dumplings.
Because the shape of Chinese dumplings looks like silver
ingot - a kind of ancient Chinese money, Chinese people
believe eating dumplings during the New Year festival will bring
more money and wealth for the coming year.
Year food includes spring rolls, glutinous rice cakes and
Sweet Rice Balls.
Dumplings is a must for Chinese New Year
Season of Superstitions — How to be Lucky in 2015…
Chinese people believe that, as
the Spring Festival is the start of a new year, what you do then
will affect your luck in the coming year. There are
many taboos for the Spring Festival season. These
taboos usually apply up to a month before the festival and
continue to the end of the festival (day 15, the Lantern
Festival). They are strictly followed in rural areas by the
older generations, but the younger generations and people in
urban areas may not know them.
- Some Chinese people believe
that they mustn't do cleaning and wash their
hair in the first three days as that will sweep/wash
away good luck.
- A cry of a child is
believed to bring bad luck to the family, so the young are
- To ask for a
loan is a big "no-no".
- Another interesting thing is
the red underwear. You will see red underwear sold at
supermarkets and street markets. Red is believed to ward off
bad luck and misfortune. For the people born in a year of
the goat (1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003),
red underwear is a must for 2015.
- To pray in a
temple during the Chinese New Year is said to be
blessed, and will lead to a smooth coming year. In Shanghai,
China's biggest city, thousands flock to Longhua Temple, the
city's biggest temple, praying for good fortune. Read more
on Things You Cannot Do During Chinese New Year.
Chinese New Year Now
— Modern Activities
|1.3 Billion People Are on the Move —
Traffic Is in Chaos
It seems the whole nation is on the
move during the festival. The festival is the busiest travel
season in China, when trains and buses are fully packed. Even
flight tickets are hard to get.
Chinese people do whatever they can to go
home to see their families: buying a ticket from scalpers at several
times the price, queuing for three
days, fighting for a ticket to stand for more than 20 hours in
an over-packed train, or riding a bus with 20 extra passengers on stools
down the aisle for 12 hours or more.
China's migrant workers are the main
force during this migration. They carry large and heavy bags full of
their worldly possessions and gifts, traveling generally from China's
rich east back to their hometowns.
Packed Guilin Railway Station
|A Rough Time for Singles — Rent a
Chinese New Year is a joyful time for
most, but for singles above the normal matrimonial age it is not so.
Parents and relatives think they should be settled down.
In China, females are said to
be marriageable before 30, and males before 32. Those who don't get
married before these ages are thought to be the dregs of society.
these singles, parents are extremely anxious. So New Year's Eve is
heighted by embarrassing interrogations of the singles. Parents even
arrange dating for their single children.
To solve this problem
an interesting, and often ridiculous, solution has appeared — renting
a boyfriend or girlfriend for the New Year. There are websites and
agents specialized in this business. Taobao, China's largest online
retailer, has a section for fake boyfriend and girlfriend rentals. The
price is about 100 yuan (16 USD) a day.
Sending Lucky Chinese New
Year Cell Phone Messages — ‘Three Goats Bring Harmony’
phone messages has become the main way to greet people on Chinese New
Year's Eve. In the past people sent New Year cards or called each other
to express their good wishes during the Spring Festival. Now most people
use cell phone text messages or WeChat (微信
/way-sshin/) to greet their friends.
There are plentiful messages online
for people to choose from when New Year is coming. Long or short, these
messages are filled with warmth and good wishes.
An old favorite greeting for
a year of the Goat is 'three goats bring harmony' (三羊开泰
k i tti /san yang kigh tigh/). It comes from Taoism. The third month has
three yangs (阳 from
yin-yang theory), and corresponds to earth-sky (in Eight Trigram
theory), meaning harmony. Later the yang (阳)
was replaced with the yang (羊)
for goat, which sounds the same, giving the saying.
Read more on Popular
Chinese New Year Greetings.
A Practical Day-by-Day Guide to Chinese
Spring Festival 2015
If you are in China during 2015’s
Chinese New Year period, the following table might be useful to you.
Several pointers are listed, such as when transport is most crowded,
when it improves, when there are lots of fireworks, whether banks and
government offices are open in this period, when shops re-open,
greetings and customs.
||Homeward Bound, Cleaning,
||End of year company events; winding
down of operations
|February 18 (New Year's Eve)
||Pasting red couplets, hanging red
lanterns, the New Year reunion dinner, setting off firecrackers,
giving red envelops to kids, staying up late to
watch CCTV’s New Year Gala
|Better, but local transport can be busy
||Most shops close by the afternoon
|February 19 (New Year’s Day)
||At midnight a barrage
of fireworks and firecrackers like WW3, more firecrackers in
the morning (before opening the door) and early evening (before
dinner); visiting neighbors or friends and relatives nearby;
giving kids redenvelopes, staying at home to relax or visiting
||No bank or government office is open.
Only big shopping malls are open.
|February 20 (Chinese New Year day 2)
||Visiting friends or relatives,
firecrackers for greeting guests and before dinner
||Almost no bank or government office is
open. Only big shopping malls are open.
|February 21 (Chinese New Year day 3)
||Visiting friends and relatives in
the city or friends and family in nearby villages
||Local travel and town
and village buses are busy, but travel to other cities and domestic
flights are ok.
||Some banks and government offices are
open, but business is limited and hours are much shorter. Only some big
shopping malls are open.
|February 22–23 (Chinese New Year days
4 and 5)
||The statutory holiday period is over.
Some people will keep visiting friends and relatives; some willgo back
||Most banks and government offices will
be open, but business is limited and hours are shorter. Most shops will
|February 24 (New Year day 6)
||For most it’s the first day
back at work.
||Almost all shops, companies, and
offices will reopen on this day, because 6 is a lucky number in Chinese
|February 25 – March 5 (New Year days
||Return travel; Lantern
Festival is on the 5th
||Some businesses may choose the 8th
(February 26) to reopen, as 8 is also a lucky number. The
non-superstitious may reopen on the 25th