The Chinese New Year is a momentous occasion and a time to organise feasts, give gifts and celebrate with red envelopes, dragons, fireworks and more. In 2017, Chinese New Year falls on Saturday 28th January, but celebrations last from the second new moon after the winter solstice until the full moon fifteen days later.
The History of Chinese New Year
Legend has it that Chinese New Year started with a fight against the “Year”, a mythical sea beast resembling both an ox and a lion (eek!) which comes out on New Year’s Eve to wreak havoc and attack people. The “Year” is scared away with loud noises, fire and the colour red. For this reason, fire lanterns are hung, fireworks set off and the colour red is EVERYWHERE at this special time of year.
Protect yourself with red and fire!
The Year of The Rooster
- Numbers: 5, 7, 8
- Flowers: Gladiola, Impatiens, Cockscomb
- Colours: gold, brown, yellow
Want to know your Chinese zodiac sign? Click here.
Like the rooster? Wear your own bird!
Customs and Traditions
Married couples and elderly people give red envelopes or red parcels, called lai sze (Cantonese) and hóngbao (Mandarin), to unmarried younger people. They’re also known as yasuigián (“money used to suppress the evil spirit”). It’s a treasured tradition focused on protecting the family home. You can’t be too careful, what with the “Year” beast roaming around!
People usually have seven days of holiday during which they visit relatives and friends, set off fireworks, go shopping and watch traditional shows. Often a religious ceremony is held in honour of heaven, earth, ancestors and gods.
A dragon dance through crowds is a key feature of the public celebration. Dragons are symbolic of Chinese culture and believed to bring good luck - the longer the dragon, the more luck it brings. It’s said they possess qualities including dignity, fertility and wisdom, despite looking terrifying.
As a tradition, a family photo is taken near the entrance of the home. Lovely!
Join in! Take your own Chinese New Year photo:
Celebrate it near you!
London’s Chinese New Year celebration takes place in and around Chinatown on Sunday 29th January, starting in Trafalgar Square and weaving its way into Chinatown.
Expect: a grand parade with lion dance, craft stalls, food stalls, traditional dance, musical performances, martial arts displays, workshops. It all starts at 10am so don’t be late!
Why not celebrate with JOY? We’re a 15-min walk from the celebrations (or faster by tube!). 101-106 Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 4TT
Leeds’ Chinese New Year celebration takes place at Leeds Town Hall on Sunday 29th January.
Expect: dance and musical performances, Chinese lion dance, Chinese calligraphy, Kung Fu and Tai Chi performances, craft stalls, food stalls, beauty stalls, face painting. Tickets go on sale at 10.30am so don’t delay!
Why not celebrate with JOY? We’re a 7-min walk from the celebrations. 63-65 Albion Street, Leeds, LS1 5AA
Birmingham’s Chinese New Year celebration takes place in the Chinese Quarter and Arcadian Centre on Sunday 29th January, 11am to 4pm.
Expect: two entertainment stages, lion dances, funfair rides, street food, dragon dances, martial arts, cultural demonstrations, Chinese magic.
Why not celebrate with JOY? We’re in New Street station, a 10-min walk from the celebrations. Concourse Level, Birmingham New Street Station, Birmingham B2 4ND