Chinese New Year in the UK – How and when is it Celebrated?

When is Chinese New Year?

This year China is set to celebrate New Year on Sunday February 10th. The date of Chinese New Year varies every year as the Chinese calendar is based on the lunar and solar calendars. However, Chinese New Year usually falls from late January to mid February. The celebrations begin on the first day of the lunar month and continue for 15 days. The Chinese New Year celebrations signify the start of new life and the beginning of spring farming begins.


Traditional Chinese New Year Celebrations

Before the Chinese New Year begins, families spring clean their homes to sweep away the bad luck, ready for a new start. Homes are then decorated and visits are made to family and friends. The first week of Chinese New Year celebrations is all about family and friends, visiting and wishing them good luck for the New Year. They wish each other “Kung Hei Fat Choi”, which means Happy New Year in Chinese. On New Years Eve everyone gathers with families and has a wonderful meal – what is eaten is dependent on the region of China. Fireworks are set off and everyone wears red.

On New Year’s day children are given red envelopes filled with money and sweets from their families.  New year ends with the Lantern festival. The lanterns are hand decorated and are hung from windows and large paper and bamboo dragons are made which young men dance with and collect money.


The Legend behind Chinese New Year

According to legend, New Year began in China with a fight against a mythical beast, named Nian. It is thought that Nian would arrive in villages on the first day of the New Year to feast on animals, crop and even villagers – to protect their livelihood villagers would put out food for Nian. The story continues, with a young child scaring Nian away as he was scared on the colour red and other villagers chasing him away with firecrackers. From this story, came many of the Chinese New Year traditions; red scrolls are hung on windows, fireworks and lanterns are a major part of celebrations and food is a major part of the festivities.


British Chinese Community

Chinese New Year celebrations in London are the largest celebration outside of Asia. Celebrations take place in the West End and Trafalgar Square – with a parade, entertainment and performances from the local community.


Chinese Zodiac signs

Chinese New Year 2013: Year of the Snake

Each New Year in China brings a new zodiac sign known as Sheng Xiao in Chinese – this year will be the year of the snake. There are twelve animal zodiacs, which run on a cycle. Each year corresponds to a different animal based around the lunar calendar. The signs are as follows; rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Those born in the year of the snake are said to be good tempered and financial secure, yet often jealous and suspicious.

To find out your sign and what that means have a look here.

How are you celebrating Chinese New Year?

Don’t forget, you can phone China for just 1p a minute.