History of Chinese New Year

› History of Chinese New Year

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Many people don’t know the history of Chinese new year, or it’s interesting traditions and customs.

Chinese New year is the most important of Chinese celebrations and holidays. The holiday begins on the first day of the first lunar month and lasts for two weeks.

The History of Chinese New Year

It is not certain as to when the Chinese New Year was first celebrated, or in what month, but by 104 BC, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty established the month as the beginning of the year as we know it today.

Legends say that the first Chinese New Year started with a fight against a mythical beast called the “Nian”, which means “year” in Chinese. Nian would come out on the first day of the New Year with the sole purpose of destruction. Villagers put food outside their homes, hoping that Nian would take it and leave. They also noticed that Nian was scared away by people wearing red, so they began using red on their homes to keep him away.

When is the next Chinese New Year Celebration?

This link will take you to a website that gives the Chinese New Year calendar for each year: Chinese New Year Calendar

Chinese New Year Customs

There are many customs that are now part of the history of Chinese New Year, including...

On New Year’s eve, family and friends gather together for a big dinner. It is usually held at the home of the most senior member of the family. The Chinese show great respect for their elders.

Fireworks! Firecrackers and other loud noises traditionally scare away the evil spirits.

Gifts of Red Packets are given to younger members of the family. Money is inside these red packets, and is given in even denominations.

The color red is a Chinese New Year Symbol that is used in all decorations. 

On the first day of the new year all new clothes are worn for good luck.

Prior to the New year, homes a thoroughly cleaned, to “sweep away” the bad luck. Homes are not cleaned during the New Year celebration for fear of sweeping away the new good luck.

More Chinese New Year Traditions for Luck

Be sure to include these items in your Chinese celebrations:

Mandarin Oranges

A Chinese New Year Flower symbolizes the newness of spring:

  • Peach blossom flowers mean luck
  • Kumquat means abundance
  • Narcissus blooms mean prosperity
  • Chrysanthemums means longevity
  • Bamboo means a strong home life
  • Sunflowers means you will have a happy year 
  • The Chinese word “Fu” means Luck and Happiness

    A lion dance or dragon dance troupe dances to scare away evil spirits, and is often used in parades or at businesses.

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