Chinese New Year is the biggest of all Chinese festivals and a public holiday in many parts of the world where there are Chinese communities. Celebrations often last for 15 days, but traditionally they would begin on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month sm-31677-monkey-costume-jumpsuit-with-hoodand end on the 15th of the first lunar month. Modern society makes it much harder to hold such long festivities, but both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are always alive with celebrations.

Monday 8th February 2016 will mark the year of the monkey. People born in this year are said to be generous and intelligent! While China adopted the Georgian calendar in 1911, traditions have always remained. After switching calendars “New Year” did not seem a fitting name for the celebration so it became known as Spring Festival.

Chinese New Year

In preparation for the festivities each household undergoes thorough spring cleaning to make way for the New Year. Once the house is ready, plenty of food is purchased to see the family through and new clothing is bought, usually in red, to wear while seeing in the New Year. Decorations and lanterns are hung in homes and stores throughout China in preparation for the coming celebrations.

Spring festival is a time for family reunions, much like our Christmas Day. Relatives gather for huge and often lavish feasts known as reunion dinners on the eve of the New Year. Ang-Poh, which are little red envelopes containing money, are given to the children of the family for luck.

Cities become awash with red and gold decorations for Chinese New Year and the streets spring to life. Lanterns are hung in their thousands and street vendors fill the air with aromatic smells. A huge part of spring festivals are the parades of dancers and floats that are held in most towns and cities across China. Typically you will see dragon and lion dancers flowing beautifully decorated fabric designs on poles over their heads mimicking movements of the spirit animals.

On the last day of festivities Spring lantern parades are held through most cities, with red lanterns seen hanging in every home, stores and parks across the country.  Lantern riddles are also a common part of this celebration making it a fun and intellectual experience. The day of the lantern festival is also the first day of the Chinese New Year to see a full moon.

Celebrate In The UK

If you’re celebrating Chinese New Year here in the south then don’t forget the most important part of the celebrations, Chinese New YearFIREWORKS! Hollywood stocks a huge range of fireworks for all occasions and what better excuse than another New Year celebration? We have it all from little selection boxes to huge barrages and rockets so pop in store to get yours before they’re gone!

London hosts the largest Chinese New Year festivities outside of Asia so if you’re looking to celebrate in the UK, get yourself to London’s China Town or West End! Don’t forget to wear red for luck and practise saying “Happy New Year” in Cantonese. San Nin Faai Lok!