Lunar New Year: Quirky Chinese Fads

Locals do not call the holiday “Chinese New Year”

In China, the holiday is known as the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year. And the Chinese aren’t the only ones celebrating. From late January to mid-February, Vietnam and other countries also celebrate the Lunar New Year.

Chaos and traffic jams

The Lunar New Year is essentially like having an entire country host a family reunion. And all at once. Traffic jams hit the country. In China, the chunyun season (a time of transport collapse and mass internal migration) is almost the world’s largest human migration season. They board overcrowded buses, illegally buy tickets for vehicles that no longer have seats, stand for hours on crowded trains – in general, they do everything possible to see their loved ones. 

The holiday lasts more than one day

Lunar New Year lasts 15 days. It’s an action-packed holiday: you can bet on horse races, watch parades, haggle in the bazaars, and compete for the main place of worship in the temple.

Superstition Season

During the Lunar New Year, the Chinese live like college students in their first year – without showers, laundry and cleaning. Among other things, you can not take out the trash, as it is said to wash away good luck and prosperity.

The bustle begins on the second day, which is considered the beginning of the year. On the third day you can not visit friends and family, because this is the day on which there are quarrels. On the seventh day, it is customary to celebrate the birthday of each family member.

You can rent a guy

The Lunar New Year can be a tough time for single people, especially women. Many do not want to be reunited with their family, as this provokes terrible interrogations. The solution was found quickly – you can rent a guy or a girl for the New Year. Various websites offer to rent a man or a woman without a sexual context, solely so that parents and other relatives stop asking questions about “when will you find a man for yourself.”

The rent for such a “bogus marriage” ranges from $77 to $925 per day. Some packages include free hugs and a goodbye kiss on the cheek, as well as additional service fees.

Strange language customs

In some parts of China, there are a few things you can and cannot do during a holiday simply because of their sound.

The purchase of shoes is prohibited during the entire lunar month, as the term for shoes (“haai”) sounds like loss or sigh in Cantonese. However, one can turn the Chinese character for luck (“fu”) upside down to make “dao” and hang it on a door to bring good luck in the new year.

Fireworks to scare away monsters

Legend has it that a half-dragon comes out of hiding and attacks people (especially children) during the Lunar New Year. His weakness is sensitive ears. In the old days, people set fire to bamboo stalks to scare the monster. At present, spectacular fireworks can be seen along the Hong Kong waterfront, which also drives away the evil dragon. 

The importance of wearing red

Red is associated with good luck and prosperity, but it is used more for protective purposes. The same half-dragon is also afraid of red, which is why there are so many of this color in New Year’s moon decorations.

Sweet time

Food is central to all Chinese festivals, but sweet snacks are especially important for the Lunar New Year, as they sweeten the outlook for next year. Traditional holiday treats include rice pudding, crispy dumplings, candied fruits and sunflower seeds.

The New Year has its own genre of cinema

China and Hong Kong have a Lunar New Year movie genre called hesuipian. Movies tend to be illogical. These are most often inspirational family-focused comedies with happy endings.

Lunar New Year is a really great time to spend with family and friends, so many people in China do not follow all the customs, but just enjoy the moment. 


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