The Origin of Chinese New Year and What You Need to Know

The Origin of Chinese New Year and What You Need to Know

When is it Celebrated? Chinese New Year will begin on Tuesday February 5th, 2019. The reason the new year falls at this time because it marks the start of the Lunar New Year, which is when there is the start of a new moon. Due to the dependency of the moon, the date of Chinese New year actually changes each year, but it will always fall some time between January 21 – February 20th. Next year, the New Year will start on January 25, 2020, so the celebrations will be slightly earlier than they are this year. 

What is Chinese New Year? Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival. It is the most important celebration in the Chinese Calendar. In Chinese tradition, each year is named after one of twelve animals, which feature in the Chinese zodiac. 


The Origin of Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year’s Origin: In the Shang Dynasty: Chinese New Year has enjoyed a history of about 3,500 years. Its exact beginning is not recorded. Some people believe that Chinese New Year originated in the Shang Dynasty (1600–1046 BC), when people held sacrificial ceremonies in honor of gods and ancestors at the beginning or the end of each year.

Chinese Calendar “Year” Established: In the Zhou Dynasty: The term Nian (‘year’) first appeared in the Zhou Dynasty (1046–256 BC). It had become a custom to offer sacrifices to ancestors or gods, and to worship nature in order to bless harvests at the turn of the year.

Chinese New Year Date Was Fixed: In the Han Dynasty: The date of the festival, the first day of the first month in the Chinese lunar calendar, was fixed in the Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD). Certain celebration activities became popular, such as burning bamboo to make a loud cracking sound.

In Modern Times: In 1912, the government decided to abolish Chinese New Year and the lunar calendar, but adopted the Gregorian calendar instead and made January 1 the official start of the new year. After 1949, Chinese New Year was renamed to the Spring Festival. It was listed as a nationwide public holiday. Nowadays, many traditional activities are disappearing, but new trends have been generated. CCTV (China Central Television) Spring Festival Gala, shopping online, WeChat red envelopes, and overseas travel make Chinese New Year more interesting and colorful.