Lunar (Chinese) New Year Date in the current year: February 5, 2019

Lunar (Chinese) New Year Countries that use calendars based on the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar celebrate New Year on the first day of the first month of the Chinese calendar. Commonly referred to as Chinese New Year, the holiday has different names in different countries: Spring Festival in China, Ten in Vietnam, Losar in Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan, Seollal in Korea, and Tsagaan Sar in Mongolia.

The first day of Lunar New Year begins on the new moon that appears between January 21 and February 20. Every year in the Chinese calendar is assigned a zodiac sign named after an animal (Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig) and a characteristic associated with an element (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water).

In China and in countries with significant Chinese diaspora, Chinese New Year is one of the most prominent and celebrated festivals. In present-day China, the first day of the new year marks the beginning of the 15-day long Spring Festival. The final day of the Chinese New Year celebrations is known as the Lantern Festival.

Chinese New Year is associated with a number of traditions that vary widely depending on the region. In most Chinese families, New Year’s Eve or Day is marked with a reunion dinner, which is often considered the most important get-together meal of the year. The dinner traditionally includes pork, chicken, and dumplings.

Other traditions include thoroughly cleaning one’s house to sweep away any bad luck, decorating doors and windows with red paper-cuts and fai chun (bright red banners with phrases and couplets meaning good luck and prosperity), lighting firecrackers and attending firework displays. A traditional New Year’s gift in China is money in a red envelope. The color of the envelop is a symbol of good luck designed to ward off evil spirits.

In Vietnam, Lunar New Year is called Tet. Marking the arrival of spring in the Vietnamese calendar, it is considered the most important celebration in Vietnamese culture. It generally coincides with Chinese New Year, except when new moon occurs on different days in China and Vietnam because of the one-hour time difference between the countries.

Many customs practiced during Tet are similar to that associated with Chinese New Year: family reunions, ancestral worship, cooking special holiday food, and giving money in red envelopes as presents. Traditional holiday decorations include a decorated bamboo pole called cây nêu and flowers (apricot blossoms, peach blossoms, plum blossoms, chrysanthemums, marigolds, pansies, and others).

Losar is a Tibetan Buddhist festival related to Chinese New Year. It is celebrated in Tibet, Bhutan, and by certain ethnic groups in Nepal. Like Chinese New Year, it is celebrated for 15 days, although the main celebrations only last for the first three days. Local customs vary depending on the region, but they usually include cleaning and decorating one’s home, cooking special foods, burning incense, and giving offerings.

Korean New Year is named Seollal. It is one of the most important traditional holidays celebrated in both South and North Korea. The celebration usually lasts for three days: the last day of the Korean lunar calendar, New Year’s Day, and the day after Korean New Year. During this time, many Koreans visit family and friends, worship their ancestors, eat traditional food, wear traditional Korean dress (hanbok), and play folk games.

Mongolian New Year (Tsagaan Sar) is one of the most important holidays in the country. Its traditions include holiday-specific greetings, visiting friends and family, exchanging gifts, wearing national costumes, burning candles, and preparing holiday food. Tsagaan Sar celebrations were banned during the communist regime, but the holiday was revived after the Mongolian Revolution of 1990.

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Category

Public Holidays, Cultural Observances, Folk Festivals

Country

Bhutan, Brunei, China, Christmas Island, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Suriname, Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam

Tags

Chinese New Year, Spring Festival, Losar, Tet, Seollal, Tsagaan Sar, Vietnamese New Year, Korean New Year