– Lunar New Year, which also encompasses Chinese New Year or “Spring Festival,” begins on Jan. 27 and ends Feb. 2. While Chinese New Year is part of Lunar New Year, Lunar New Year is not necessarily Chinese New Year — it is more of a blanket term that is celebrated by more than one culture.
– Chinese New Year is based on the ancient Chinese calendar that existed when the Shang Dynasty was in power during the 14th Century B.C. “The Chinese calendar was a complex timepiece,” said Christopher Tin of Better Chinatown USA. “Its parameters were set according to the lunar phases as well as the solar solstices and equinoxes.”
– The Chinese calendar also follows the Chinese zodiac, meaning each year is represented by one of 12 signs of the Zodiac. This is the year of the rooster.
– Home and family are the core principles of the Chinese New Year . New Year in China is the largest period of human migration on earth, according to Tin. “Everyone goes back home to visit their families, and with so many migrant workers, this equates to hundreds of millions of people!” he said.
– One common tradition includes gifting red envelopes, or “lai see,” which are filled with “lucky money.” These envelopes are most commonly given to children by their parents. The amount of money doesn’t matter as it is only symbolic, however, it is usually an even number.
– The numbers eight and 88 are considered especially lucky because “eight” sounds like a word that means “prosperity.”
– Families offer ritual sacrifices of food and paper icons to appease both Gods and ancestors. Paying respects to your ancestors is also a common practice during the new year.
– Dumplings are often created to resemble gold and silver ingots to represent riches and foods like hard-boiled eggs, fish and chicken are all associated with prosperity. Spring rolls tend to represent wealth and sweet rice balls represent family togetherness.
– The color red is often used during the Chinese New Year — so much so it is even featured in food. Red dates, dyed pumpkin seeds and pomegranates are often found on the table during Chinese New Year.