With less than 2 weeks to Chinese New Year, festive news and promotions are everywhere around us. As much as we enjoy the scale of CNY celebrations and appreciate its cultural significance, its complex web of customs, handed down over thousands of years, tend to confuse us and many of our contemporaries in general.
To understand this Chinese festival better, we list some of the most essential dates associated with CNY this year.
The last day of the Lunar calendar, CNY Eve (or 除夕 chú xī) is the one of the most important days observed by Chinese people all around the world. Families come together for the most important reunion dinner of the year, gathering and spending quality time together. On this day, children get to stay up past their parents’ bedtime as an act of filial piety to wish for their parents’ good health and longevity.
The 1st day of the 1st Lunar month. This is the start of the Lunar New Year, sometimes also known as the Spring Festival. This is a day for visiting your elders and relatives, exchanging greetings, gifts, and paying your respects. Avoid cussing, using inauspicious words, donning black clothes, and using tools such as the broom as they are believed to bring bad luck.
The 7th day of the 1st Lunar month is popularly known as Mankind’s Birthday (or 人日 rén rì). According to Chinese beliefs, this is the day Mankind was created. Remember to be nice and harmonious when interacting with others on this day, wish them “Happy Birthday” as well, it is Our day after all. This is also a popular day for people to visit temples and pray.
The 9th day of the 1st Lunar month is regarded as the Jade Emperor’s birthday. As the paramount leader of Chinese deities, most households will prepare offerings and elaborate prayers to celebrate this day and pray to the Jade Emperor for a good year ahead. In terms of religious practices, this is one of the most important dates to remember.
Amidst all that CNY bustle, this is just a kind reminder for couples. If your partner views Valentine’s Day as an important occasion, you’re welcome. Please your significant other and avoid potential negativity – we’re still celebrating CNY at this point and negative emotions are inauspicious.
The 15th day of the 1st Lunar month is also the day of the Lantern Festival (元宵节 yuán xiāo jié). The traditional last day of CNY, this marks the end of Spring Festival celebrations. People used to flood the streets and participate in a bustling night of entertainment, including dragon dances, acrobatic feats, and stalls that put up lantern riddles for all to attempt. In this day and age, lanterns are still a common sight among many Chinese communities. This is also the day when glutinous rice balls (汤圆 tāng yuán) are consumed with your loved ones to bring harmony and happiness to all your treasured relationships.