Chinese New Year begins according to the Chinese calendar which consists of both Gregorian and lunar-solar calendar systems. Because the track of the new moon changes from year to year, Chinese New Year can begin anytime between late January and mid-February. Below is a chart that shows the beginning day of Chinese New Year and the animal sign for that year.
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Chinese New Year First day
Early in the morning, children greet their parents by wishing them a healthy and happy new year, and receive money in red paper envelopes. The first day is for the welcoming of the deities of the heavens and earth, officially beginning at midnight. Many people, especially Buddhists, abstain from meat consumption on the first day because it is believed that this will ensure a long life. Some consider lighting fires and using knives to be bad luck on New Year’s Day, so all food to be consumed is cooked on the days before. On this day, it is considered bad luck to clean.
Most importantly, the first day of Chinese New Year is a time to honor one’s elders, and families visit the oldest and most senior members of their extended families, usually their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.
Family who are married also give red envelopes containing cash to junior members of the family, mostly children and teenagers. Business managers also give bonuses in red envelopes to employees for good luck and wealth.
Incense is burned at the graves of ancestors as part of the offering and prayer ritual.
The second day of the Chinese New Year, is when married daughters visited their birth parents, relatives and close friends. Some believe that the second day is also the birthday of all dogs and honor them with special treats.
The third day, known as “red mouth” is generally accepted as not a good day to socialize or visit your relatives and friends. This is also considered a propitious day to visit the temple of the God of Wealth and have one’s future told.
In communities that celebrate Chinese New Year for only two or three days, the fourth day is when corporate “spring dinners” kick off and business returns to normal.
It is common in China that on the fifth day people will shoot off firecrackers in the attempt to get Guan Yu’s attention, thus ensuring his favor and good fortune for the new year.
In Taiwan, businesses traditionally re-open on the sixth day, accompanied by firecrackers.
The seventh day is the day when everyone grows one year older.
For many Chinese Buddhists, this is another day to avoid meat.
Another family dinner is held to celebrate the eve of the birth of the Jade Emperor. However, everybody should be back to work by the eighth day. All government agencies and business will stop celebrating by the eighth day. Store owners will host a lunch / dinner with their employees, thanking their employees for the work they have done for the whole year.
The ninth day is traditionally the Jade Emperor’s birthday. This day is especially important to Hokkiens. Come midnight of the eighth day of the new year, Hokkiens will offer thanks, giving prayers to the Emperor of Heaven.
The Jade Emperor’s party is also celebrated on this day.
Eleventh through fifteenth day
On these days, friends and family are invited for dinners. On the 13th day people will eat pure vegetarian food to clean out their stomach due to consuming too much over the last two weeks.
The 15th day is celebrated as the Lantern Festival, and families walk in the street carrying lighted lanterns. In Malaysia and Singapore, this day is celebrated by individuals seeking a love partner, a version of Valentine’s Day. This day often marks the end of the Chinese New Year festivities.