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Chinese New Year is the most popular celebration of the traditional Chinese holidays. It is celebrated in China and many other countries where there is a significant Chinese population. This year, the Chinese New Year 2016 begins today, February 8, marking the start of the year of the snake.

The celebrations begin on the eve before New Year’s Day and generally last until the 15th day of the New Year, which is the day of the Lantern Festival. The New Year’s Eve festivities begin with house cleaning to sweep out evil spirits and make room for good fortune, happiness, wealth, and longevity. Here are six more elements that make up a traditional Chinese New Year’s Eve:

Door Decorations

Doors are decorated with red cut-outs and banners as the color red is believed to bring good luck.

chinese new year door decorations
image by Dennis Kruyt on flickr

Jiaozi

It is a popular activity to spend the New Year’s Eve day making Jiaozi (dumplings filled with either ground meat or vegetables) with family members. Sometimes a coin is hidden in one of the dumplings and the person who finds the coin is said to have good luck in the coming year.

chinese new year dumplings
image by kattebelletje on flickr

Dinner

Dinner on New Year’s Eve is a large family gathering where all types of traditional Chinese foods are shared like pig, duck, fish, chicken, and sweets. All of the food served also has a symbolic meaning.

chinese new year dinner
image by Chris Devers on flickr

Leisee

Leisee are red envelopes/packets that are filled with money and are traditionally given by the married to the unmarried. The amount of money in the envelope varies, but normally is an amount that ends in an even number for good luck.

chinese new year red packets
image by Steel Wool on flickr

Tray of Togetherness

The Tray of Togetherness is full of sugared sweets, dried fruit, and nuts. The tray traditionally contains eight compartments (eight is a lucky number) and is octagonally shaped, but other versions are circular and have only six compartments. The tray is offered to guests to symbolically bring in a “sweet” New Year.
chinese new year togertherness tray

Firecrackers

Firecrackers are an important part of Chinese New Year celebrations as the loud noises of the fireworks are said to ward off evil spirits that may enter into the new year.

chinese new year firecrackers
image by Jim Nix / Nomadic Pursuits on flickr

Chinese New Year Future Dates:

Chinese New Year 2016: begins on February 8, year of the Monkey.

Chinese New Year 2017: begins on January 28, year of the Rooster.

Chinese New Year 2018: begins on February 16, year of the Dog.

Chinese New Year 2019: begins on February 5, year of the Pig.

Would you like to celebrate the Chinese New Year in China next year?

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  • Zeb Clark

    Instead of Valentines day, can we have a 2nd Thanksgiving so I can eat more? Hahaha…

  • Yeah, Chinese New Tear is one of the best time periods (pretty long one) for visiting this wonderful country.

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