Angela from BLCU explains Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is approaching and with that the year of the rooster is coming to an end and the year of the dog is about to start. If you don’t have any idea what that means don’t worry. Angela from Beijing Language and Culture University is giving you a short crash course on Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year or 春节(chūnjié, Spring Festival) is China’s most important festival and holiday. The Chinese New Year’s date is decided by the Chinese lunar calendar, and it changes every year. It falls on February 16th this year. Each Chinese year is associated with an animal sign according to the Chinese zodiac. The coming new year is a year of dog, 狗年(gǒunián).

Chinese people have a tradition to get family reunion and have dinner together on Chinese New Year’s eve. That dinner is called 年夜饭(niányèfàn). In the North, Chinese dumplings, 饺子(jiǎozi), are the must-eat food on Chinese New Year’s Eve. But southern Chinese people would like to eat 年糕(niángāo), rice cake or汤圆(tāngyuán), balls of glutinous rice.

饺子(jiǎozi)
年糕(niángāo)
汤圆(tāngyuán)

It is an important custom to set off firecrackers and fireworks during the Chinese New Year period. In traditional Chinese culture, firecrackers or 鞭炮(biānpào) were originally used to scare away evil spirits. I still remember my grandfather ask my father to set off a string of firecrackers while he is boiling dumplings for the New Year’s Eve dinner every year when I was a child.

Like at Christmas in other countries, people exchange gifts during the Spring Festival.The most common New Year gifts are red envelopes, 红包(hóngbāo). 红包(hóngbāo) are traditionally given to the small kids or unmarried children in the family by elder generations. They have money in, and are believed to bring good luck because they are red. Nowadays smart phones are widely used in China. Chinese people also use Wechat 微信(wēixìn) or Alipay支付宝(zhīfùbǎo) to send red envelopes to their family and friends.

Do you have a Chinese friend? Do you know what you should say when you meet Chinese people during the Chinese New Year? These three sentences may helps:

过年好(Guò nián hǎo)!Happy Chinese New Year!

恭喜发财(Gōngxǐ fācái)!May you be happy and prosperous!

狗年大吉(Gǒu nián dà jí)!Good luck in the year of dog!

Learn More

There is so much more to learn about Chinese culture. The best way to do so is by actually learning the language. If you are interested in learning the language, make sure to check the available programs from Beijing Language and Culture University. You can study one semester (or less) or one year (or more). You can easily apply by following these steps:

  1. Choose a study mode: one semester or one year
  2. Apply: Click the “Apply Now” button on the bottom of the webpage, then click “Next to Contact Info” button to fill in all your details and upload your documents. For your application you only need to provide these four documents
  3. Submit your application: Pay the application fee, upload a receipt of payment to the payment section of your online application and press the “Submit Payment” button, we will then submit your application to the university

 

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