Every year we get New Year’s Eve which brings bright fireworks and celebrations in every city across the world. But that’s not all we get! Every year the Chinese culture spreads to every corner of the planet for Chinese New Year.
Chinese New Year has become an international celebration specifically in South East Asia, or wherever a large Chinese population takes a deep root. Non-Asian countries also celebrate Chinese New Year because large Chinese communities want to keep the celebration alive in their adopted countries.
Chinese New Year has more than 4,000 years of history and is the longest holiday of the year. At present, this holiday starts on the first of the Lunar Calendar and lasts until the 15th of the first month. This year, Chinese New Year starts on February 16th and ends on March 2nd.
In most Chinese communities, all stores are closed during the 5 days of the Spring Festival. People will stock up on New Year supplies beforehand. Many Chinese kitchens will also show signs of festival dishes like cured meats, salted fish, dimsums, fruits and other preserved foods.
The Laba Festival
In the traditional sense, the Laba Festival (January 24, 2018) marks the start of the Spring Festival. Memorial services are held on this day to pray for good harvest and for fortune. Traditional food for the Laba festival is Laba Congee which is made up of 7 types of grains that includes red beans, red dates and husked rice.
The Spring Festival
The Spring Festival kicks off with the Little Year on February 8th and officially starts on February 16th and ends on March 3rd with the Lantern Festival. The Spring Festival is long and has different activities and traditions for each day. These activities can vary depending on what region or country you’re in.
Some of the most universal celebrations for Chinese New Year involve lighting firecrackers, bell ringing and traditional lion dances. Street festivals are held featuring art, entertainment and children’s activities. In most major cities and towns food stalls are available showcasing the best of the best Chinese dishes.
Chinese families gather together for a reunion and have a New Year’s Eve dinner. They clean their houses and sweep away bad fortunes during New Year’s Day. As tradition dictates, kids will be given red envelopes with lucky money inside.
It’s A Dog Year!
2018 is the Year of the Dog according to the Chinese Zodiac. The Chinese Zodiac goes in a 12-year cycle and people who are born in 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006 and 2018 are born in the Year of the Dog. According to Chinese astrology, a person’s year of birth and the corresponding animal represents a lot about their personality. Anyone born during a dog year will be serious, but communicative and responsible in the workplace. Good news!
Below are all of the Chinese Zodiac years if you’re interested. Just find your birth year and you’ll know which one you are.
- Rat: 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960
- Ox: 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961
- Tiger: 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962
- Rabbit: 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963
- Dragon: 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964
- Snake: 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965
- Horse: 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966
- Goat: 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967
- Monkey: 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968
- Rooster: 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969
- Dog: 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958
- Pig: 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971, 1959
Chinese New Year In Australia
Chinese Australian families will usually spend the New Year with their family gathered together for a festive meal. Kids receive lucky red envelopes with money of course (Ang Pao). It’s a busy time that is filled with fun and festive programs across different communities in Australia.
Although it’s a national holiday in some parts of the world, in Australia, it’s not a public holiday. Some Chinese establishments or businesses are closed or adjust their business hours in order to participate in the festivities. There may be heavy traffic and some streets may be closed in cities or towns where the celebrations are held.
Celebrations In Sydney
Sydney is home to some of the biggest Chinese New Year festivals outside of Asia. For two weeks, more than 80 Chinese New Year Events in Sydney are featured in the city. The festivities are spread around Sydney, from Chinatown and Darling Harbour, to the north suburb of Chastwood and Cabramatta in the southwest.
Food festivals allow visitors and locals to try some deliciously different flavours from China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines. The markets as well as bars are lit by strings of lanterns. Also, the biggest Dragon boat race is held in Sydney with more than 3,000 paddlers with more than 100 races running every 10 minutes. About 40 Sydney restaurants will offer set menus as part of the festivities.
Celebrations In Melbourne
Melbourne also hosts a festive parade with the Mayor’s yearly unveiling of a 100 metre long illuminated dragon to kick off the party. Fireworks are a staple of the celebrations with Chinese establishments joining the festivities. Traditional Chinese music, lion dancers and martial art shows are also popular.
Chinatown in the Melbourne CBD celebrates the New Year with the Dragon Awakening Ceremony with its famous lion dance, costume parade and the dragon parade in the streets of Melbourne. There are food truck parks, light shows, live music and performances.
Celebrations In Adelaide
Chinatown in Adelaide hosts an annual Chinese New Year Party featuring traditional lion dances, martial arts performances from the South Australia Wingchun Martial Arts school and many stalls selling foods and drinks. Some Adelaide Chinese restaurants like T-Chow, Park Lok and House of Chow will offer banquets specifically for the festival so don’t miss out!
Enjoy The Chinese New Year!