Why Do People Celebrate Chinese New Year? – Understanding Traditions

Chinese New Year, also called Spring Festival, is a happy celebration with long traditions that go back thousands of years. This special time, lasting about 15 days, starts with the New Moon and ends with the Lantern Festival during the full moon. It’s a mix of old customs and fun activities happening today. Families come together for special dinners, showing unity, and people wear bright red clothes for good luck. Fireworks light up the sky to keep away bad spirits, and red envelopes with money inside are given for good fortune. Nowadays, Chinese New Year is a happy time that combines ancient traditions with modern fun, bringing warmth and togetherness.

The Historical Roots of Chinese New Year

A very long time ago in ancient China, a fascinating legend took place, creating the foundation for what we now know as Chinese New Year. The story speaks of a scary creature named Nian, who would come out on New Year’s Eve to frighten villages, especially going after innocent children. To protect their homes, villagers cleverly placed food at their doors. As the tale goes, people found out that Nian was afraid of the color red and loud noises. So, homes decked in bright red colors and filled with the booming sounds of firecrackers became the norm, keeping the menacing creature at bay.

Beyond the mythical part, Chinese New Year carried a tapestry of historical traditions. It was a special time to show respect to household deities, heavenly beings, and beloved ancestors. Families gathered together, creating a sense of renewal, symbolized by the clean slate of a new year, both in a symbolic and literal sense. This blend of legends and history paints a clear picture of the deep meaning woven into the celebration of Chinese New Year.

The Significance of Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is rich in symbolism. It’s a time for family reunions, feasting, and wishing for a prosperous new year. Each year is associated with one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, and it’s believed that the animal ruling the year you were born has a profound influence on your life and personality.

1. Family and Community

Chinese New Year is all about family. People travel long distances to be with their loved ones. The highlight of the celebration is the New Year’s Eve dinner, known as the ‘Reunion Dinner.’ This meal is very important, bringing families together for a happy feast and shared company. The bonds of love and togetherness grow stronger as laughter fills the air around the dinner table. It’s a special time to enjoy the warmth of family connections, creating memories that last all year.

2. Cleaning and Decorating

Families get ready for happy celebrations by cleaning their homes really well. This tradition is thought to get rid of any leftover bad luck and make room for good luck. The atmosphere changes a lot as they put up red lanterns, couplets, and paper cuttings in careful places. This makes everything look lively and lucky. The color red is everywhere because it’s a symbol of good fortune and happiness. This special tradition doesn’t just make homes feel new, but it also shows how much everyone is looking forward to the upcoming celebrations. While getting ready, each home feels warm and positive, signaling the start of a happy celebration.

3. Food and Feasting

During celebrations, food becomes really important, and the names of the dishes often have special meanings. For example, when we eat fish, it’s not just because it tastes good – we believe it brings good luck and prosperity because its name sounds like the word for surplus. Dumplings are another example; they’re shaped like ancient Chinese money and represent wealth. When we enjoy these foods, it’s like expressing our wishes for financial success. Long noodles are also a favorite, not only because they taste great but because they symbolize a wish for a long and healthy life. In these special moments, every bite we take is like a connection to our cultural traditions and a hopeful step into the future, filled with the flavors of joy and symbolism.

4. Gifts and Red Envelopes

During festive celebrations, the act of exchanging gifts takes center stage. Among the cherished presents are vibrant red envelopes, known as ‘hongbao.’ These special envelopes are often bestowed upon children and young adults, carrying within them a symbol of good fortune and protection from malevolent spirits. The tradition involves the thoughtful gesture of placing money inside the red envelopes, bringing not just material joy but also a wish for prosperity and happiness. This age-old practice intertwines generosity with cultural beliefs, fostering a spirit of positivity and togetherness as people share in the joy of giving and receiving these symbolic gifts.

Chinese New Year Presentations

During Chinese New Year, various traditional and modern presentations are held to celebrate the festival. These include:

1. Dragon and Lion Dances

During Chinese New Year, there are exciting cultural performances that bring joy and happiness. One of the most captivating shows is the dragon dance. Dancers skillfully move along, flexible dragon figures in parades, creating a mesmerizing sight. Another beloved tradition is the lion dance, where two energetic performers wear a colorful lion costume. This lively dance is thought to bring good luck for the upcoming year. As the dancers move in sync, the rhythmic beats of drums and cymbals add to the festive atmosphere, making the start of Chinese New Year full of joy and good fortune. Share these Chinese New Year presentations with your loved ones to express your gratitude.

2. Fireworks and Firecrackers

At midnight during Chinese New Year, there are exciting fireworks and loud firecrackers. They make a beautiful show of lights. According to an old story about Nian, the fireworks have two jobs: they bring happiness and also scare away bad spirits. The loud sounds and bright lights are thought to keep the Nian creature and other evil things away. This tradition makes the new year happy and also shows that everyone is working together to get rid of bad things and start fresh with happiness and hope.

3. Lantern Festival

The Lantern Festival is a special celebration that marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations. It’s a happy time when colorful lanterns in various shapes light up the night, making it feel magical. Families and friends come together to enjoy each other’s company. One fun activity is solving riddles written on the lanterns, adding a playful and challenging aspect to the festivities. Another highlight is eating tangyuan, sweet glutinous rice balls that represent togetherness and unity. In summary, the Lantern Festival is a time of happiness, connection, and enjoyable traditions for everyone to enjoy.

4. Cultural Performances

In different parts of China, you can see amazing traditional performances like folk dances, acrobatics, and operas. These shows not only entertain but also show you a bit of China’s rich cultural history. Imagine being surrounded by the lively music of folk dances, the impressive acrobatic tricks, and the beautiful songs of operas. Each performance is like a glimpse into the colorful history of China, making it a really enjoyable experience for everyone watching. It’s like stepping into a special place full of traditions, where the past comes to life through graceful dances, daring stunts, and heartfelt music.

5. Modern Celebrations

Chinese New Year keeps its old customs that families love for a long time. But now, it’s also getting a modern touch with exciting TV shows. These shows have great music, beautiful dances, and funny performances. They make people happy and want to join in. There are also fun quizzes and live polls during the shows, so it’s not just watching – it’s playing along too. The mix of old traditions and new entertainment creates a lively celebration that everyone, young and old, can enjoy. It’s like a colorful picture that shows off the wonderful Chinese New Year traditions for everyone to see.


Chinese New Year is not just a celebration; it’s a special time to remember the past, enjoy the present, and think about the future. It brings happiness, family, and hope. Learning about its customs helps us understand the depth and beauty of Chinese culture, which has developed over many years. In our connected world, people from different backgrounds all over the world can share in the joy and fun of Chinese New Year.

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