Blog / WuKong Sharings / Chinese Culture / When is Happy New Year in Chinese? Dates, History,Traditions

When is Happy New Year in Chinese? Dates, History,Traditions

Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is a time of great importance in Chinese culture. It is a time when families come together to celebrate, pay respects to ancestors, and usher in good luck for the year ahead. Unlike the Western New Year, which falls on January 1st, the Chinese Spring Festival follows the lunar calendar, making its date fluctuate from year to year. So, let’s delve into the details of “when is happy new year in Chinese?”, its cultural significance, and the customs associated with it.

Chinese New Year is a time of great importance in Chinese culture

Chinese New Year Dates and the Lunar Calendar

The Chinese New Year is a movable feast, meaning its date varies yearly according to the lunar calendar. The lunar calendar is based on the moon’s cycles and divides the year into 12 or 13 months of 29 or 30 days each. As a result, Chinese New Year falls on a different date of the Gregorian calendar (the calendar most of the world follows) each year.

The Spring Festival usually falls between January 21st and February 20th, depending on the specific lunar calculations. To determine the exact date, you’ll need to consult a Chinese calendar or an online resource dedicated to tracking lunar events.

When is Happy New Year in Chinese 2024?

In 2024, the Spring Festival will occur on Saturday, February 10th, 2024, and the festive celebrations will reach their peak with the Lantern Festival on February 24th, 2024.

History of Chinese New Year: Why It’s Called Spring Festival

The origins of the Chinese New Year festival can be traced back approximately 3,500 years. This significant celebration has undergone a gradual evolution, with its customs evolving over an extensive period.

Interestingly, despite occurring during the winter season, the Chinese New Year is commonly referred to as the Spring Festival in China. This name stems from the fact that it commences with the arrival of the Beginning of Spring, which is one of the twenty-four terms used to denote the changes in nature. This transition signifies the conclusion of winter and the advent of spring.

The Spring Festival serves as the commencement of a new year on the lunar calendar, symbolizing the collective aspiration for a fresh start and the pursuit of new beginnings.

Legend of the Origin of Spring Festival

Chinese New Year is full of interesting stories and myths, and one of the most famous legends is about a creature called Nian, which means “Year” in Chinese. Nian used to cause trouble by eating animals, crops, and even people right before the start of the new year.

To stop Nian from causing havoc, people started putting food outside their doors as an offering to satisfy its hunger and keep it away from their homes.

According to the legend, an old man came up with a clever idea to scare Nian away. He discovered that Nian was afraid of loud noises, like firecrackers, and didn’t like the colour red. So, to protect themselves, people began hanging red lanterns and scrolls on their doors and windows. They also started setting off firecrackers, or in the old days, crackling bamboo, to make loud noises and frighten Nian away.

These simple but effective tactics not only kept Nian at bay but also turned into cherished traditions that are still a part of the Chinese New Year celebrations today.

How is Chinese New Year Celebrated? New Year Traditions and Customs

Chinese New Year is celebrated with grand festivities and time-honored customs. It’s a time when families come together to celebrate and observe various customs and traditions.

New year celebrations lasts for about 15 days

Here are some of the most prominent customs associated with this festive occasion:

  • Family Reunions: Chinese New Year is a time when families strive to come together for a grand reunion dinner on New Year’s Eve. It is believed that having the whole family present during this meal ensures unity and prosperity in the coming year.
  • Red Envelopes (Hongbao): Red envelopes, known as “hongbao” in Mandarin, are traditionally filled with money and given as gifts during the Spring Festival. The red colour symbolizes good luck and wards off evil spirits. It is common for parents, grandparents, and married couples to give hongbao to children and unmarried individuals.
  • Dragon and Lion Dances: Spectacular dragon and lion dances are performed during Chinese New Year parades and celebrations. These dances are believed to bring good luck and prosperity to the community. The dragon, in particular, is a symbol of power, strength, and good fortune.
  • Firecrackers and Fireworks: The sound of firecrackers and fireworks is an integral part of celebrations. It is believed that the loud noise scares away evil spirits and bad luck, making way for a prosperous year ahead.
  • Decorations: Homes are adorned with red lanterns, couplets with auspicious phrases, and other symbolic decorations during Chinese New Year. These decorations are believed to bring good luck, happiness, and fortune to the household.
  • Traditional Foods: Chinese New Year feasts include a variety of traditional dishes, each with its own symbolic meaning. For example, dumplings symbolize wealth; fish represent abundance, and rice cakes signify a higher income or position.
  • Cleaning and Clearing Debts: Before the New Year, it is customary to thoroughly clean and declutter homes to get rid of any lingering bad luck from the past year. Debts are also settled to start the year fresh and free from financial burdens.


Q1: When is Happy New Year in Chinese?

Answer: It typically falls between January 21st and February 20th of each year, depending on the lunar calendar. 

Q2: How is the Chinese New Year date determined?

Answer: It’s determined by the lunar calendar, which is based on the cycles of the moon. It usually falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice, which can range from late January to mid-February.

Q3: Are there any specific foods associated with Chinese New Year?

Answer: Yes, there are several traditional foods associated with Chinese New Year. These include dumplings, fish, rice cakes, and sweet rice balls. Each food item has symbolic significance and is believed to bring good fortune.


“When is Happy New Year in Chinese?” is a question that leads us into the vibrant and rich tapestry of Chinese culture and tradition. The Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is a time of renewal, unity, and celebration. Its fluctuating date, determined by the lunar calendar, ensures that each year brings a unique set of zodiac animals and elements, adding to the diversity of the festivities.

The customs and traditions associated with Chinese New Year, from family reunions to dragon dances and red envelopes, reflect the deep-rooted values of luck, happiness, and prosperity. 

If you are interested in Chinese learning, come and have a free trial class from WuKong!

Learn authentic Chinese from those who live and breathe the culture.

Specially tailored for kids aged 3-18 around the world!

Get started free!




WuKong Recommends