All About Chinese New Year CNY
Chinese New Year is the festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the Chinese lunar calendar. In Chinese and many other East Asian cultures, this festival is commonly referred to as the Spring Festival (春節 / 春节, Chūn jié). The Chinese New Year celebration period starts from Lichun (the first solar term in the Chinese Calendar), and ends on Lantern Festival (the 15th day of the year).
We marked out 8 hallmark stories below for families and children to learn and enjoy all about CNY:
CNY Episode 1: Where did year “Nian” come from
CNY Episode 2: House Cleaning Before CNY
Beginning on the 24th day of the 12th lunar month, Chinese people carry out a thorough ‘house-cleaning”, this is also called “sweeping away the dust”, representing a wish to put away old things, bid farewell to the old year, and welcome Chinese New Year.
CNY Episode 3: CNY Couplets
To prepare for Chinese New Year, Chinese people decorate the house with red lanterns, red spring couplets, paper cuttings, and New Year’s paintings. These decorations are thought to keep evil away and draw in blessings, longevity, health, and peace.
CNY Episode 4: Family Reunion Dinner On CNY Eve
The Chinese New Year’s Eve reunion dinner is a “must-do” dinner with all family members reuniting. Every member of the family tries very hard to make this family event, often traveling long distances. Often, families are gathered around a round table, enjoying food and time together. CNY reunion dinner has dishes with lucky meanings such as fish, dumplings, Nian Gao (sticky rice cake), and spring rolls.
CNY Episode 5: New Year Red Envelopes (Lucky Money)
Parents and families usually give children red envelopes after the reunion dinner, wishing them health, growth, and good studies in the coming year, sometimes given out right before midnight. These are also called Ya (壓Press) Sui (歲Year/Age) Qian (錢Money) – which are supposed to protect the youngsters from evil deities. Money in red envelopes is believed to bring good luck, as red is China’s lucky colour, so it is called lucky money.
CNY Episode 6: New Clothes New Year (1st Day of CNY)
Before Chinese New Year’s Eve, along with food and decorations, people buy new clothes for the new year, whether they need them or not. On the first day of the New Year, Chinese people put on new clothes, and say “gongxi” (恭喜) to wish each other good luck and happiness in the New Year. It is customary for the younger generation to visit their elders, and wish them health and longevity.
CNY Episode 7: Bai Nian Chinese New Year Greetings
On the first day of the New Year, Chinese people put on new clothes, and say “gongxi” (恭喜) to wish each other good luck and happiness in the New Year. It is customary for the younger generation to visit their elders, and wish them health and longevity. From the 3rd to the 7th day of the New Year, Chinese people visit relatives and friends, and also visit the tombs of their relatives.
CNY Episode 8: Yuan Xiao Jie Chinese Lantern Festival
The 15th (last) day of the New Year is the Lantern Festival (元宵节 Yuánxiāo Jié). It is the traditional end of Chinese New Year celebrations. On Lantern Festival, Chinese people hang lanterns at home, or send glowing lanterns into the sky, or release floating lanterns onto the sea or rivers. Children also play a game of solving riddles called 猜燈謎 (dēngmí).
People eat glutinous rice ball called tangyuan (‘湯圓’) to celebrate Lantern Festival as well. Normally the rice balls are filled with sweet red bean paste, sesame paste, peanut butter paste and even chocolate paste; the rice balls can be boiled, fried or steamed. Chinese people believe that the round shape of the balls and the bowls in which they are served symbolises family togetherness, and that eating tangyuan will bring the family harmony, happiness and luck in the new year.
These are the 8 hallmark stories of the Chinese New Year. We wish everyone around the world a great CNY celebration every year!