Mengjia Ma
Feb 2, 2017 · 5 min read

[Know about China][Tradition]Chinese new year 1

Today is chinese new year! Happy new year to all of you! This year is year of rooster while the just passed one is year of monkey.

Chinese new year is the most important festival for Chinese people, the same as the Christmas to you. Usually people will So if you have any business with the Chinese, you may have a relax this period since you can find almost nobody is working. Chinese new year was known as the largest annual migration in the world with millions of people travelling back home for a family reunion. So it is usually a tough time to buy a train ticket. I can still remember that when I was in the university where is 2000km away from my hometown, it took me to wait overnight to buy a bed ticket, but sometimes I was not so lucky so have to take a seat for almost 30 hours back home.

I was always asked a question, how you define the date of Chinese new year? Why is it change year by year and not 1st January? All the answer is in the calendar system that we use. Though we have adopted Gregorian calendar a hundred years ago, we still keep our traditional Chinese calendar to determine most of the important festivals, like Chinese new year(spring festival), mid autumn festival, (Dragon boat festival, Lantern festival)… Chinese calendar, also known by Nongli, is based on the lunar cycles or phases of the moon, a month begins strictly from the New Moon with full moon in the middle and last one complete lunar cycle which is about 29and half days. So we usually have 29 days or 30 days in a month and12 months in a year.

You may smart enough to find out that 29.5days and 12 months, totally only about 354 days per year. That is almost 11 days fall behind a solar cycle, which determines the changes of seasons, which means after several years, instead of at the beginning of spring, the New Year(spring festival) could start in summer or even autumn/fall. That doesn’t follow the law of nature! To solve this problem, our intelligent ancestors created Leap year according to the solar cycle. Unlike one day more in February that Gregorian calendar does, we have one month more which is called leap month inserted after a certain month with the same name of that month, this happens almost every 3 years. By this way, our calendar perfectly incorporates both the lunar cycle and solar cycle, making it one of the most accurate calendar system in the world as a kind of Lunisolar calendar.The fact that the Chinese calendar takes into account the solar and lunar cycles is connected to our belief that the world consists of Yin and Yang, yin is moon and yang is the sun. I haven’t told you that our calendar is called Yinyang li (calendar) in Chinese. Our wise ancestors also invented 24 Solar Terms according to the motion of sun and natural phenomenon to help with the farming activities! For example, Lichun, the beginning of spring, is the first term, which reminds people that spring is coming. The leap month is usually determined according to the solar terms.

By now you may know why our new year “changed” year by year, we use different calendar system and have different days per year, so we have different days differences with the solar calendar.

On Chinese new year eve, family usually has a feast and eating dumplings together while watching the Spring festival Gala by CCTV (national TV). Young people may go outside to play fireplaces and have fun. From the first day of the new year, it is the tradition to give new year wishes to the elder people (is called “Bai nian” in Chinese).And the elder people will prepare the lucky money in an red envelop (Hong Bao) to the joniors.With the development of smartphone and social media, the digital “lucky money(Hong Bao)” has become prevailing ( So nowadays, one more thing has been added into te must-do list during the New year, that is — grab a digital Hongbao from the popular SMS app Wechat in a certain social group.

When I mentioned that this year will be the year of rooster, I was always asked the question, “ is it a good year to be year of rooster?” Well, we won’t say whether it is a good year or bad one generally, each animal year maybe good to someone while not to the others. Especially for those who were born in the same animal year ( which is called “Ben Ming Nian”), and people believe that Ben Ming Nian will offend the “TaiSui “(the god of age) thus will suffer some misfortunes such as illness, some obstacles in your business or career or even the relationship in the following year. To avoid these, people will wear some red underwear, socks or belts etc. to keep away from the misfortunes.Is it your year (2005/1993/1981/1969/1957…)? If yes, remember to take something red!

At the end, my best wishes to all of you! Happy new year!

Here is an interesting video from the foreign students in my university for celebrating the Chinese new year, year of rooster — “Dance of chicken”! Funny and intelligent!:)