Chinese New Year

Discover the family traditions of China's biggest event
Start: 22 January 2023
End: 5 February 2023




141 Chaoyangmen Outer Street, Chaowai, Chaoyang, Beijing, China

GPS: 39.92385559777, 116.44403704675

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Chinese New Year is the most popular event of Beijing and corresponds to the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar. Its origin dates back several thousand years, under the Shang dynasty, in the time of ancient legends and traditions.

Nowadays, the Chinese New Year has a family dimension and can be broken down into 4 phases: the Small Year (preparation of the New Year), the New Year’s Eve (big meal), the Spring Festival (rites and ceremonies) and the Lantern Festival (dances and festivities to the rhythm of the drums).

On this occasion, the Chinese are given several days off to celebrate the Lunar New Year with their families. Among the rituals and customs still in use today, here are the major festivities:

  • Make paper prints and decorative objects in red to hang on the front of houses (red is the lucky colour, symbol of prosperity)
  • Clean up the inside of the house to make the bad news of the past year go away
  • Organize a ceremony in memory of the ancestors and in homage to the God of the Furnace (Zaowangye)
  • Prepare a big family dinner on Lunar New Year’s Eve, where the menu, which is larger than usual, differs according to region (it is synonymous with health, longevity, prosperity or happiness): crescent-moon ravioli (Jiǎozi), noodles (the longest possible), glutinous rice cakes (Niángāo), stuffed rice balls (Tāngyuán), whole chicken and fish…
  • Watch a gala evening on public television and staying up until the wee hours of the morning
  • Burst firecrackers (fàng biān pào) to protect against an ancient and evil beast called Nian, demons and evil spirits
  • Exchange greetings and visiting parents, families, friends, relatives and neighbours to wish them a Happy New Year
  • Give lucky messages and gifts to children (hong-bao) in red and gold envelopes
  • Feed the mice on the morning of the 3rd day
  • Participate in parades and parades (kàn shè huǒ), such as the lion dance in the streets
  • Welcome the God of Fortune/Richess/Prosperity (Yíng Cáishén) and the God of Abundance (Cáishén)
  • Make offerings to the goddess of Linshui (to protect young and pregnant women from future miscarriage)
  • Celebrate the Lantern Festival on the last day of the New Year (parades, dragon dance to the sound of drums, streets decorated with paper lanterns of all colours and shapes, jumping over heaps of fire…)
Read more

  • A thousand-year-old event rich in history and tradition
  • The preparations leading up to the Chinese New Year celebration
  • The open air festivities (parades, parades, dances, firecrackers, fireworks…)
  • The privilege of spending this event within a Chinese family
  • At the time of the Shang Dynasty (16th to 11th centuries BC), the Chinese New Year was marked by sacrifices and offerings in honour of ancestors or deities.
  • The Chinese lunar calendar associates each new year with an animal. Following the year of the Rat, 2021 was dedicated to the sign of the Buffalo under the element of Metal (one of the five elements of Chinese astrology). Since 1 February 2022, it is followed by the Year of the Tiger (under the element of Water).
  • Chinese New Year is held during the second new moon since the winter solstice (before the lunar phase of the spring equinox). It coincides with the first day of a new moon. The date changes every year but is always between January 21 and February 19 for 15 days of festivities and rituals beginning on the last day of the 12th month.
  • Beyond China and Beijing, the New Year is considered an official holiday in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. It is also celebrated in many Asian countries and territories (including Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, South Korea…) as well as other countries around the world with a large Chinese community.
  • Apart from the Taoist site of Dongyue (built in the 14th century), the Ditan (Temple of the Earth) and Changdian temples or the Longtan Park, all based in Beijing, organize special fairs (shows and animations) on the occasion of the Chinese New Year.
  • The Spring Festival takes place in the middle of winter in China so make sure you travel with warm clothes.
  • Book your tickets in advance and expect to encounter crowds of travellers during your way (train stations, airports and roads are crowded).
  • Access to the public events is free of charge. In Chinese, “good year” is said “Xin Nian Hao”.