Since last Thursday, Chinese New Year celebrations have been going strong around the world. While we’ve given you some ideas on how and where to celebrate, we thought it would be fun to delve a little deeper into what makes this holiday so special. So without further ado, here are our top 10 interesting facts about the Chinese New Year.
10. It’s celebrated by 1/3 of the world
That’s right, 1/3 of the world’s population has at least one public holiday dedicated to Chinese New Year. While China’s 1.35 billion people make up the majority, other large countries like Indonesia and the Philippines also recognize the New Year. In all, a total of 10 countries give workers and students days off to celebrate.
9. 700 million people watch the opening celebrations
More people watch China’s opening extravaganza than the Super Bowl and the Oscars combined. The 5-hour telecast includes music, dance, fireworks, and much more. We might have the ball drop in Times Square, but even that can’t compare to the sheer scale of this New Year’s party.
8. Biggest use of fireworks annually…
Seeing as China produces about 90% of the world’s fireworks I guess this shouldn’t be a surprise. However the amount of fireworks launched in cities like Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Beijing is astounding even by these standards.
7. …However fireworks are banned in some areas
In Hong Kong for example, civilians are officially not permitted to put on their own display – although there is a large official event. In various other urban areas, there are restrictions or outright bans. This is rare in rural areas however, so people in the country are allowed to light up the night sky to their hearts content.
6. Plum trees are bought in seasonal markets
In a tradition similar to buying a Christmas tree, many revellers will attend one of the New Year’s markets and purchase a perfect plum tree.
5. Outside of China, San Francisco hosts the biggest event
The San Francisco Chinese New Year Festival and Parade is the largest celebration of Asian culture in North America. Dating back to the mid 19th century, the parade was started by Chinese immigrants who had come to America to work in gold mines and build the railroad.
4. There are a variety of holiday greetings
We already know ‘Gung Hay Fat Choy’ (Best wishes and congratulations. Have a prosperous and good year) but there are many other potential greetings as well. Usually consisting of four Chinese characters they include; Yīběnwànlì – “May a small investment bring ten-thousand fold profits”, Jīnyùmǎntáng – “May your wealth [gold and jade] come to fill a hall”, and more.
3. It’s the year of the wood goat
Not only is it the year of the yang (goat, sheep, or ram depending on the translation), it’s also the year of the pinyin – wood or tree. Wood generally refers to strength and flexibility, warmth, generosity, idealism, and social consciousness. This is meant to complement the characteristics that go along with the yang and differentiates this year from previous yang years.
2. Even the food can be prosperous
Prosperity is a common theme for Chinese New Year and so food with ingredients that have names related to prosperity and wealth are favoured. This includes fish, mandarin oranges, jiaozi dumplings, uncut noodles, and more.
1. Open windows to let out the old year
Just as the New Year is about to begin, many open their doors or windows in order to let the old year out and make room for the new!
These are just a few of the interesting traditions and facts about what is a truly fascinating holiday. Click here for more on the year of the yang or find out what makes each of the 15 days of Chinese New Year unique.
Stay informed. Stay Current.