As Chinese New Year (aka Lunar New Year) 2020 is coming up, we’ve put together a handy guide of the key things to know. From where it’s celebrated to ancient traditions and tasty treats, it’s one of our favourite festivals.
Forget New Year’s Eve on December 31st – this vibrant and fun celebration has it all.
Lunar New Year 2020: What You Need To Know
1. Where is Lunar New Year Celebrated?
All over Asia! While it’s commonly known as Chinese New Year, in China locals call it the Spring Festival. It’s Seollal in Korea, Tet in Vietnam and Losar in Tibet.
2. When is Lunar New Year in 2020?
First of all, it’s not just one day – it’s 15 days. The Gregorian calendar says every new year begins January 1st, but the traditional lunar calendar says it’s the date of the second new moon after the winter solstice. In 2020, the Lunar New Year is on January 25th and is the year of the Rat.
3. There’s Special Sweets & Foods
Traditional holiday foods include dumplings, long noodles, peanuts, eight-treasure rice (a dessert with dried fruits) and New Year cake (a steamed cake with lots of flavour variations). You’ll also find the ‘eight sweets’: candied shredded coconut, lotus seeds, bamboo shoots, kumquat, lotus root, coconut ribbons, and winter melon.
4. The Colour Red is Very Important!
While Western cultures associate the colour ‘red’ with anger, it symbolises good fortune, joy and happiness in Chinese tradition. So, you’ll see vibrant red lanterns and red clothing everywhere, and locals give friends and family red envelopes with money.
5. And There’s Lots of Traditions & Superstitions
In Chinese folklore, a mythical beast, ‘Nian’, used to attack villagers every spring. It could only be driven away by the colour red and loud noise. This is why lighting firecrackers is such a popular tradition. A few days before the Chinese New Year, people spring clean their houses and decorate them.
There’s also lots of Chinese New Year superstitions: negative or unlucky words have to be avoided; using knives and scissors on New Year’s Day is bad luck as it is believed to cut off good fortune.
6. It’s a Popular Time for Holiday Getaways
Many people visit relatives for the festivities, but as locals all get annual leave and stores and other businesses shut for the holiday, it’s a popular time to escape for a break. We’ve got the best places to visit for some much-needed R&R here.
7. How to Say “Happy New Year'”:
- Mandarin: xi fa cai
- Cantonese: gong hey fat choi
- Vietnamese: chúc mừng năm mới
- Korean: saehae bok mani badeuseyo