Chinese New Year: This is how the year of the metal hole is heralded worldwide

Chinese New Years Festival
This is how the year of metal holes is heralded worldwide

At the end of the 15-day New Year celebrations, red lanterns traditionally illuminate houses and public places.

© Toa55 /

On February 12th, the year of metal holes begins in the Chinese culture. This is how the New Year is traditionally celebrated.

In China, the New Year Festival, also known as the Spring Festival, is the most important traditional holiday of the year. It always falls on a new moon between January 21st and February 21st, this year the time has come on February 12th. What traditions are associated with the Chinese New Year, in which regions of the world they are celebrated and how does the ongoing corona pandemic affect this year's celebrations?

The Chinese New Year is not only celebrated in the People's Republic of China, but in many East Asian countries. They include Korea, Mongolia and Vietnam, among others. There are also individual regions in countries such as Thailand and Indonesia, where many Chinese abroad live, but also the famous Chinatowns in western metropolises such as London and New York City. However, not all countries and regions celebrate New Year on the same day and follow the same customs. An example is Tibet, where the festivities usually take place a new moon later.

Cleaning, decorating and traveling are done in advance

When the year of the metal rat ends for most Chinese after February 11, preparations for the turn of the year have been in full swing for a good two weeks. Many Chinese people go to great lengths to clean and decorate their home before the festivities begin. In addition, most people drive or fly to their families. They often save their annual vacation days for this.

The New Year's celebrations, which last a total of 15 days, begin on the eve of New Year's Day with a festive meal, where fish and chicken are traditionally served. The families then use the preparation of dumplings, called jiaozi, for the next day to pass the time, before a fireworks display that lasts several hours begins at around 11 p.m. According to legend, this is supposed to drive away the monster that threatens the happiness of the New Year. It is not only afraid of noise, but also of red and gold, which is why the two colors are omnipresent over the holidays.

Dragon and lion dances, New Year wishes and money gifts

On New Year's Day itself, dragon and lion dances are performed and mahjong games are played. As in Germany on January 1st, you also wish you a Happy New Year. In addition, people open windows and doors to let in happiness.

A special highlight for children and unmarried family members should be small red envelopes with gifts of money during the holidays. The value they have depends on the relationship between donor and recipient, as "The Culture Trip" explains. The New Year celebrations end with the Lantern Festival. People light candles outside their homes to guide the spirits of their ancestors home.

Pandemic imposes new restrictions

As in 2020, the New Year celebrations in 2021 will also be influenced by the ongoing corona pandemic that broke out in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. As the "New York Times" reported at the end of January, the government of the People's Republic of China is so afraid of a new mass spread of the corona virus that it has set new quarantine and test rules that have been sharply criticized. Due to these rules, it should be almost impossible for poor people in particular to visit their families in rural areas over the holidays this year.

But people in densely populated, urban areas are also confronted with travel restrictions. The capital Beijing, for example, requires travelers to pass a negative corona test. The authorities in other countries that celebrate the Chinese New Year have also imposed similar rules.