Five Fascinating Facts About Lunar New Year

There are a whole load of fascinating traditions that go hand-in-hand with the festival, and here are just a few of them…

Written byBen Hayward
Published on
Read time4 min read

Celebrated by more than 20% of the Earth’s population (over 1.5 billion people!) Lunar New Year is not only the most important holiday in China, but to the Chinese population the world over.

However if you are one of the 80% of people who don’t celebrate Lunar New Year, there may be a few things you didn’t know about it.

There are a whole load of fascinating traditions that go hand-in-hand with the festival, and here are just a few of them…

When is Lunar New Year?


Much like the Christian celebration of Easter, the date for Lunar New Year (also known as the Spring Festival) changes annually.

According to the Lunar calendar, the Spring Festival is on January 1st and lasts until the 15th (the full moon). However, when you try to calculate it with the solar (Gregorian) calendar, the date is all over the place.

Lunar New Year can fall on any date between January 21st and February 20th and this year (2024), it is on February 10th.

Although the lunar calendar is still very important in China, the country has officially moved to the Gregorian calendar that is most commonly use throughout the rest of the world.

However all the traditional holidays are still celebrated with some people even judging their birthdays and ages by the lunar calendar.

The most fireworks are set off in the world on Chinese New Year


The legend goes that every New Year’s Eve a monster named Nian (年) would come out. Most people would hide in their homes, but one boy was brave enough to fight him off using firecrackers.

The next day, people celebrated by setting off even more firecrackers, and the practice became a crucial part of the Spring Festival. So now every New Year’s Eve people stay up to set off firecrackers at midnight, and in the morning, they do it again to welcome the new year and good luck!

It causes the largest human migration in the world


The most important aspect of Chinese New Year is the family reunion, and traditionally everyone should return home for New Year’s Eve dinner.

However, nowadays most elderly parents live in rural villages while kids work either in the cities or abroad. This mass migration back home for the holiday season is called chunyun (春运), or Spring Migration.

Because the earliest you can buy train tickets is 60 days before, it leads to a huge rush which has seen people quite literally fighting for tickets. In fact, in 2015 figures showed that a staggering 1,000 tickets were sold each second in the run up to New Year. And you thought trains were busy in the UK!

There’s no showering allowed on New Year’s Day


Yep, that’s right, taking a shower is strictly forbidden on New Year’s Day, and sweeping and throwing out rubbish isn’t allowed before the 5th. This may seem strange, but it’s a tradition to make sure you don’t wash away any of the New Year good luck!

However, there is a day before the Spring Festival that is specifically dedicated to cleaning, so you can sweep away the bad luck in time to make room for the good.

There are a few other things that are taboo during New Year including using scissors, knives and other sharp things, arguing, swearing, saying unlucky words (like ‘death’ and ‘sickness’ and breaking things - so be careful…

Single people hire fake partners to take home with them


It’s hard to know how common this is, but there’s certainly enough evidence to suggest it happens more than you might think…

Having children and passing down the family name is an important part of Chinese culture and as a result, it’s been reported that some desperate singletons have been resorting to hiring fake boyfriends or girlfriends to take home to their families.

For those who can’t (or don’t want to) go home, it can be a good opportunity to earn a few Yuan, and for the others it can potentially avoid a load of boring questions from your family, although you have to admit there’s plenty of opportunity for the ruse to be uncovered…

So, hopefully you’ve learned a few fascinating facts about the most important date in the Chinese Calendar.

Xin nian kuai le!

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