8 Things to Know About Chinese New Year/Lunar New Year for Dummies

Chinese New Year celebrated with a touch of red.

This 2021 Chinese New Year is marked on Friday February 12 across the world to celebrate fortune, wisdom and happiness, however of course not everyone celebrates this tradition.  Here are 8 things for anyone who wants to learn about the traditional celebration.  

1. It is the year of the OX

The Chinese zodiac celebrates 12 animals (in order: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig) and each symbolizes specific characteristics assigned for your birth year.  For every year, an animal is represented and rotated every year for the next animal to be celebrated.  For 2021, it is the Year of the OX.  Find out which animal you are!

2. All RED everything

An old legend has it that a terrifying beast, Nian, would destroy land, crops, and even eat people on New Year's Day.  To defeat the beast, it was believed its weakness came from fire, noise, and the colour red.  From then on, red has been traditionally used as a good luck charm for everything from decorations to fashion.

3. Envelopes and money as gifts?

As a traditional gift to the younger generation or unmarried, the older generation would pass red envelopes of money to children of the family or friends.  Often displayed at a family gathering or occasion such as a wedding.  It is a sign of blessing and happiness to the receiver.  There are different variations of this tradition.  

Red envelopes are given to younger generations for blessing and happiness.

4. Witness the Dragon and Lion Dance

The dance symbolizes power, wisdom and wealth, and the dragon dance performance consists of multiple performers dressed as a single dragon performing acrobatic moves whereas the lion dance consists of only 2 performers.  Often an activity celebrated and engaged for entertainment proposes.

5. Family Reunion and parades

The Chinese New Year is seen as a happy time to celebrate with loved ones and gather to exchange gifts and eat together.  Parades that consist of decorations, lanterns, firecrackers, food, dances, and plenty of red are a common theme to the Chinese community.

6. Beginning of Spring in February? 

Chinese New Year also marks the end of the coldest days of the season and beginning of the Spring, also known as Spring Festival.  Other names associated are Lunar New Year or New Year Spring to name a few.

The famous dragon dance celebrated to bring people together.

7. NOT just celebrated in China

Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year is celebrated across other countries in Asia that include Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, and Vietnam.  Some Asian countries celebrate on a different date and follow a different calendar, and focus on calling it Lunar New Year.  In non-Asian countries such as North America, it is celebrated within communities however it is not a formal public holiday.  

8. Lucky and unlucky numbers

Ah yes last but not least, lucky number 8 is the luckiest number in the Chinese tradition.  People will purchase more for certain homes or floors with this particular number for fortune, prosperity and success.  The unlucky number in the Chinese tradition is 4 because is pronounced similar to the word ‘death’.    

That ends the list for Chinese New Year however there is a lot to know about this very special tradition.  Keep note that this tradition is celebrated similarly in all Asian communities with slight variations and the my views do not reflect the Markham Public Library. 

If you would like to learn more, we have a large collection provided below to check out.

Chinese New Year


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