All You Need to Know About Chinese New Year 2021

It might be hard to believe it at first, but for at least 20% of the world population, the new year will be arriving this month.

The Chinese Lunar Year, also known as Spring Festival, is the most popular festival in China and a massive event in other Asian countries. And this time around, it falls on Friday, February 12th.

Apart from the countries that celebrate this holiday, such as China, the Philippines, Malaysia, and North Korea, there is a sizable Chinese population all over the world who joins the Spring Festival every year from abroad. In total, it is estimated that 2,020 million people will raise their glasses to celebrate Chinese New Year 2021 on February 12th.

Below, you will find some of the most fascinating facts about this festival, as well as some ideas on how to join the celebration from home.

The date for the Spring Festival changes each year

Celebrated between January 21 and February 20, the Chinese New Year is marked by the lunar calendar. The Chinese call their New Year holidays ‘Spring Festival’ because it coincides with ‘Start of Spring’, the first of the terms in their traditional solar calendar. This is when the frostiest part of winter ends and people start to look forward to the arrival of Spring.

In 2021, the celebration will fall on Friday, February 12th. So, if you’re still in a festive mood after the Christian holiday season, you can join the Chinese New Year 2021 by toasting with a glass of baijiu. The Mainlanders drink this liquor for all occasions, including the Lunar New Year. On Friday 12th, you can open a bottle of baiju (make sure you order it in advance!), and surprise your family and friends with a toast. After such a devastating 2020, they will surely be in the mood to clink their glasses one more time, even if it’s virtually!

The Chinese zodiac attaches animal signs to each lunar year

In a repeating 12-year cycle, the Chinese zodiac or Sheng Xiao is based on animal signs and their characteristic traits. The Lunar New Year marks the transition from one sign to the next. 2020 was the year of the Rat, which will end on February 11th, 2021. And on February 12th we will enter the year of the Ox.

It is a favourable and timely sign. In Sheng Xiao, the ox represents prosperity obtained through effort, hard work, and perseverance. People born in the Year of the Ox are methodical, patient, and altruistic.

Do you know what is your Chinese zodiac sign? To celebrate the Chinese New Year 2021, you can gather your family, read all of your signs’ personality traits, and see how much you relate to them. If you want to learn a few Chinese words along the way, you can search the word for your sign in that language. For example, the ox is 牛 (niú) and the rat is 鼠 (shǔ).

On Chinese New Year’s Eve, people eat symbolic foods

Some foods are eaten during the Chinese New Year week purely for the auspicious quality that people attribute to them. Dumplings, for example, have a shape that resembles Chinese coins —ingots— which serve as a symbol for wealth and prosperity. As a result, eating dumplings is thought to invoke good luck—a tradition that has been part of most Asian cultures for about 1,800 years.

Fish, on the other hand, is consumed because the Chinese word for fish, 鱼 (yú) sounds like the word for “surplus” or “abundance”. This Chinese New Year’s Eve, then, you can delve into this fascinating culture by cooking an auspicious meal and you can tell your family all about the connection between food and good fortune in Chinese culture.

Billions of red envelopes are exchanged around New Year week

Around New Year’s Eve, red envelopes are handed out from parents to children, from people in high ranks to employees, and from political or social leaders to underlings. It is a sort of New Year’s bonus. Although these envelopes usually contain money, you can also give them to your loved ones as a symbol of affection. In fact, today many of these gifts are sent electronically.

If you are a language enthusiast, you can take this opportunity to send red envelopes with good wishes in Chinese. Using online dictionaries and translation apps, you can come up with nice messages for the people you love. Of course, you will have to start by saying 新年快乐 (Xīnnián kuàilè) – Happy New Year! But you can also write some personalized messages to those who’ve been by your side throughout a very challenging year.

As you can see, the festivities are not over yet! For those who love to take part in traditions from other cultures, there is still one very special night to look forward to.

Actually, if you want to make the most of it, you could even take a few Chinese lessons around New Year’s week. On our website, you will find online Chinese courses taught by native teachers that will help you to improve your skills much faster than you would with traditional lessons. Contact us now and receive the Chinese New Year 2021 by learning a new skill!