The Meaning Behind Chinese New Year

image of dragon for chinese new year in macau

What is the meaning behind Chinese New Year? The Chinese New Year marks the turn of the Chinese calendar, which typically falls between late January and mid February. Also known as the Spring Festival, Chinese New Year is a traditional holiday celebrated from Chinese New Year’s Eve to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month. The festival is the longest in the Chinese calendar and considered a major holiday for Chinese families.

Although Chinese New Year is centuries old, the holiday is still significant for Chinese families because of the legacy of ancient myths and traditions. The festival was originally instilled, and still celebrated today, as a time to honour ancestors and deities.

Perhaps the most interesting legend of the Chinese New Year is Nian, a mythical beast said to appear on the first day of the new year to consume crops, livestock and children. Villagers would put offerings in front of their homes to protect their families from the beast, thus laying the groundwork for the celebrations we know today.

The Chinese New Year is celebrated in areas with dense Chinese populations, including Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Thailand, the Philippines, Hong Kong Macau and Mainland China. Cities in other countries celebrate the Chinese New Year as well, especially towns with large Chinese villages like New York, San Francisco, Boston, Toronto and Vancouver.

Specific Chinese New Year customs and traditions vary widely within China’s different regions. Most families gather for an annual dinner on Chinese New Year’s Eve called Nian Ye Fan, and many families conduct a thorough cleaning of their homes to banish bad fortune and prepare for the New Year’s blessings. Families also dress their doors and windows in decorations that embrace happiness, wealth and good fortune. Chinese children enjoy lighting firecrackers to kick off a new year and often receive red envelopes filled with money, given to suppress the challenges associated with growing a year older.

Food plays a large role in Chinese New Year celebrations, and families relish the opportunity to prepare traditional dishes to be shared with friends and family. Meat, mainly pork and chicken, is plentiful as are Mandarin oranges. Leek, noodles, taro cakes, seeds and sweets are other common food items served during Chinese New Year.

Many families take a new family portrait during the Chinese New Year when all the relatives are gathered for celebrations. This photograph is usually taken in front of the family’s home, and the eldest male typically sits in the center of his family.

Red is a popular colour seen during New Year celebrations, in decorations but also in clothing. It was believed that the colour red repelled evil spirits, bad fortune and even the beast Nian. Some people choose to wear new items of clothing from head to toe during celebrations, aiming to show off their wealth and social status.

Are you curious about what the Chinese New Year has in store for you? Call Absolute Soul Secrets for a psychic reading by phone to find out. Go to our website at to find the phone number for your country. Inquiries are the cost of a local call for your country.

Author: Rose Smith