Publication date February 12, 2024

The Ultimate Guide to Chinese New Year 2024: Traditions, Food, Festivities, and More!

Curious about the vibrant celebrations and rich traditions of the Lunar New Year? Wondering why people even celebrate the Year of the Dragon? This ultimate guide has all your answers! 

chinese new year 2024

Kicking off on February 10th, 2024, the Lunar New Year isn't just a single day, but a 16-day spectacle of parades, family reunions, delicious feasts, and dazzling fireworks, signifying the end of winter and the arrival of spring. 

Observed across Asia and beyond, this ancient holiday is deeply rooted in the Chinese zodiac, and this year, the mythical and powerful Dragon takes center stage, promising vigor, strength, and good fortune. 

So, without any further ado let’s explore the fascinating history, diverse traditions, and captivating festivities that make Chinese New Year 2024 truly unforgettable!

What is Chinese New Year 2024 

Chinese New Year is the annual 15-day festival in China and Chinese communities around the world that begins with the new moon that occurs sometime between January 21 and February 20 according to Western calendars. The festival lasts until the following full moon.

The holiday is usually called the Lunar New Year because the dates of celebration follow the phases of the moon. It's worth noting that the Lunar New Year is one of the most important holidays in many Asian countries and the Asian diaspora.

Since the mid-1990s people in China have been given seven days off work during the Chinese New Year. This holiday has been designated Spring Festival, a term that is sometimes used to refer to the Chinese New Year in general.

Originally, the origins of this festival are steeped in legend, one legend is that thousands of years ago a demon named Nian (“Year”) would attack villagers at the beginning of each new year. The demon was afraid of loud noises, bright lights, and the color red, so people used those things to chase the beast away. 

Why is it the Year Of The Dragon?

As per the Chinese zodiac, each year honors an animal. The circle of 12 animals which includes a rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig - measures the cycles of time. This year, the Chinese New Year animal 2024 is the Dragon. 

On the other hand, the Vietnamese zodiac is slightly different, honoring the cat instead of the rabbit and the buffalo instead of the ox. According to legend, it is believed that God invited all three 12 animals to bid him farewell before he departed from Earth and only 12 of them showed up.

What is the importance of celebrating Lunar New Year? 

To know the importance of each Lunar New Year, it’s necessary to recognize the attributes of both the element and the animal. With wood as the element for Chinese New Year 2024, people believed in embracing growth, success, and the initial stage of development. 

Wood represents humanity’s aspiration to achieve, progress, grow, and expand. The Year of the Dragon symbolizes health, strength, and good fortune. Those born in this year are believed to have qualities like dragons—natural leadership, charisma, and boundless enthusiasm.

When is the Lunar New Year 2024

This year, the Chinese New Year 2024 falls on February 10. Usually, the festivities often last for 15 days, beginning a week ahead of the New Year. People prepare festive cakes and puddings to boost their growth in the upcoming year, hang red banners (Nian) at their homes, clean their homes, and hold family reunion dinners on Lunar New Year's Eve.

How do people celebrate Chinese New Year?

The Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival and it is the most solemn festival of the year for every Chinese and has been celebrated in China for thousands of years. 

lunar new year 2024

When celebrating the New Year people focus on removing the bad and the old, and welcoming the new and the good. During this time people worship ancestors, exorcise evil spirits, and pray for a good harvest.

Today it's also celebrated by Chinese communities outside the country. There are many activities that people perform on this day, some of the rich and colorful activities include lion dance, dragon dance, temple fairs, and flower market shopping. People also clean their houses to get rid of dirt, rubbish, and other unwanted items. They redecorate them with red couplets, lanterns, new flowerpots, and furniture, and shop for foodstuffs for banquet specialties.

The Chinese New Year is an important family reunion occasion too, so those who are living or working far away would return home prior to the holiday. In China, this is now known as Chun Yun (春运 Moving in the Spring): millions of people travel on the country's vast public transport or via private means, coming home to be with their loved ones.

Common Lunar New Year traditions

There are many time-honored traditions and customs linked with the Chinese New Year 2024, including spending time with loved ones, shopping for holiday goods, and exchanging lucky red envelopes known as "hóngbāo."

Lunar New Year traditions

Source: Yoyo Chinese

Symbolic of good fortune, the impressive envelopes usually contain money and are adorned with ornate gold imagery to represent prosperity. Another Chinese custom is decorating houses, including windows with red paper cuttings and hanging couplets on the doors for luck in the year ahead.

On Lunar New Year's Eve, families traditionally sit down for a feast known as the "Reunion Dinner." One of the most important rituals during the Lunar New Year, the reunion dinner brings everyone together to end the year, and often an extra place is set at the table for those unable to join.

Cooking and eating dumplings is also customary during the Lunar New Year. People believe that dumplings symbolize wealth and good fortune and are also believed to ensure luck and prosperity in the year to come.

Whether they're the kind that light up the night sky or just the small red lights from the corner store, fireworks are yet another integral part of the Lunar New Year, 

Aside from the lights and firecrackers to scare the monster away, it’s common to hear their loud pops everywhere, and, per folklore, it's bad luck to sweep their red wrappers up off the ground as it's viewed as sweeping your good luck away.

How to say ‘Happy New Year’ in Chinese?

In northern China, people commonly say "Xinnian Kuaile" (Happy New Year in Mandarin) when greeting someone. On the other hand, in Guangdong and Hong Kong, the Cantonese version of the greeting is "Gong Hey Fat Choi" (wishing you a prosperous year).

Chinese Zodiac Signs and What They Mean

As discussed earlier, an important aspect of Chinese culture is the zodiac, which is based on a 12-year cycle. It’s said to have been introduced from a Chinese Poem about 12 animals that came from the heavens to help farmers with their crops, each year is represented by a specific animal. 

People born in the year of those animals are said to have specific personality traits, not unlike traditional astrology.

This year, the Chinese zodiac 2024, is represented by the dragon, which means last year was the year of the Rabbit. In 2025, we'll see the Year of the Snake.

If you're curious to know what your Chinese zodiac sign is, you need only do some math. For instance, if you were born 12 years ago or 24 years ago, your zodiac is the Dragon or the same as this year.

The same goes for the other 11 animal signs. Below we have a list of common personality traits associated with the Chinese Zodiac:

  • Rat (1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008): Shrewd, cunning
  • Ox (1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009): Hardworking, honest
  • Tiger (1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010): Brave, confident
  • Rabbit (1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011): Lucky, beautiful
  • Dragon (1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012): Vigor, vitality
  • Snake (1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013): Smart, sly
  • Horse (1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014): Energetic, spirited
  • Goat (1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015): Kind, gentle
  • Monkey (1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016): Intelligent, creative
  • Rooster (1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017): Faithfulness, punctuality
  • Dog (1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018): Loyal, honest
  • Pig (1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019): Generous, compassionate

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