The Chinese New Year is an important festival that is celebrated by Chinese communities around the world. The festival dates back thousands of years – it is a special time when families get together to wish everyone peace and prosperity for the year ahead.
The Chinese calendar is made up of a twelve-year cycle, and each year is named after an animal. This new year, which starts on 8 February, is the year of the Monkey.
People celebrate this special festival with colourful ceremonies and spectacular fireworks. Some of traditional ways to celebrate include:
Having a family dinner
The New Year Eve's dinner is called a reunion dinner – it is a time when different generations of the family get together to celebrate and eat lucky food.
Decorating the streets
Streets, buildings and houses will be decorated or painted in red, the main colour of the festival. People also hang lanterns in the streets and narrow strips of red paper with lines of poetry, called Couplets. As this New Year is the year of the monkey, there will also be many decorations related to monkeys.
Giving out red envelopes
People exchange gifts during the New Year. The most common gifts are red envelops with money inside – these are meant to bring good luck, as well as money.
Eating lucky food
It is lucky to eat certain food during the celebrations, such as fish, which is believed to bring wealth and good luck for the coming year. Dumplings, spring rolls, rice cakes and sweet rice balls are also popular food to eat during the festival.
Setting off firecrackers
It is traditional to set off firecrackers during the New Year celebrations. The loud noise they make symbolises the end of one year, and the start of a new. The louder the firecrackers, the luckier the year ahead is going to be.
Dragons are linked to good luck, long life and wisdom, which is why during the celebrations people perform dragon dances to scare evil spirits away. During the dance the performers hold poles and raise and lower the dragon which is usually decorated in beautiful red and gold colours. The longer the dragon, the more luck it will bring for the year ahead.
Praying in a temple
Many people go to a temple to pray for good fortune. In Shanghai, in China, thousands of people go to pray at the Longhua Temple.
- Do you celebrate the Chinese New Year, or plan to join in with the celebrations? We'd like to wish you good health and fortune for the year ahead!