Chinese New Year: Unraveling the History of the Enchanting Festival

By Kelly Richman-Abdou on January 31, 2022
Photo: Stock Photos from asharkyu/Shutterstock


How much do you know about Chinese New Year?


Happy Chinese New Year! Every February, this enchanting holiday is honored by millions of people across the globe, making it one of the world’s most widespread celebrations.

While there’s a chance you’re familiar with the festival, you may not know the significance and symbolism behind some of its most important customs. If that’s the case, you’re in luck! Here, we take a closer look at the history and elements of China’s Lunar New Year in order to understand what makes this fantastic festival so important.


What is Chinese New Year?

Chinese New Year is a holiday that marks the start of the new year according to the traditional Chinese calendar. The holiday begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice and concludes during the full moon that occurs 15 days later.

Because of its reliance on the lunar phases, the festival falls on different days each year. Similarly, a rotating cast of 12 zodiac animals are celebrated in accordance with the holiday, with one animal symbolizing a single year.

This year, the festival begins on February 1 and ends on February 15. And, according to the lunar calendar, it is now the Year of the Tiger.

Photo: K3star/DepositPhotos


Chinese New Year is also known as chunjie or the Spring Festival in China. Although technically the holiday falls during the wintertime, it marks the ending of cold weather and the anticipation of spring and new beginnings. In fact, Spring Festival is recognized as a public holiday in China, and people receive seven days off to enjoy the celebration. This year, the holiday starts on January 31 and ends February 15.


Origins of the Holiday

The exact date of the first festival is unknown. However, it likely started during the Shang Dynasty, China’s second dynasty that lasted from approximately 1600 until 1046 BCE. During the Han Dynasty, a period that took place between 206 BCE and 220 CE, Emperor Wu established a mid-winter date for this celebration—a designation that remains to this day.






More: Chinese New Year: Unraveling the History of the Enchanting Festival

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