The Chinese New Year 2021

by | Jan 16, 2018 | News

When thinking about your translation project, one of the points you need to take into consideration is the public holidays in the target market country. Is the launch or shipping of your product going to fall on a public holiday? Does your product allow for time to be spent in a container waiting to clear customs while the target country observes their holidays? When organising to exhibit your products/services in your desired target market will people be available to attend, or will they be on holiday? How long does this holiday last? One day, one long weekend? If the target country is China, and the holiday is the New Year, we will be talking about a week of non-stop celebration.

Unlike the Western New Year, the Chinese New Year, also known as ‘Spring Festival’ in modern Mainland China, differs from year to year, and can begin anytime between January and February based on their calendar. The Chinese New Year in 2020 is on Friday, the 16th of February 2020, and it will welcome the year of the dog in the Chinese zodiac.

To shed some light into China’s most important traditional holiday and festival, we’ve asked two of our trusted Chinese translators if they could kindly share their experiences with us, and here is what they had to say.

One of them tells us that to welcome the new lunar year they put up antithetical couplets on doors, and paper-cuts on the windows before the New Year’s Eve. This is one of the memorable activities to be done by parents and children together.

She continues,

‘we traditionally stay up late on the New Year’s Eve so as to bid farewell to the last day of the lunar year and welcome the first day of the new year, which has a specific Chinese expression: 守岁. The popular activity the whole family does together on the New Year’s Eve is watching the Spring Festival Gala on TV which broadcasts from 20:00 to 24:00.

‘Although prohibited in some big cities for the sake of environment protection, setting off firecrackers is still very popular especially in rural areas.

‘Also, during the first several days of the new lunar year, the traditional activity is visiting our relatives and friends to wish each other best wishes. Children and newly-wed people may receive a red envelope with (big) money from the elder people when they visit them. Sumptuous meals are always well prepared during these days. Dumplings are the reserved new year food, especially in northern China.’

Another one of our linguists who resides in the UK says,

‘when I was in China, I used to go from my work city to my hometown to join my parents for a family gathering. Since I joined my parents for this event, everything will be in their way of celebration. I would have Chinese dumplings, and the best food you can get and cook. My parents would give me Yearly Growth Money (called Ya Sui Qian) and I would pay my respect to them by applying our traditional practice called ‘Kowtow’ (kneel and touch the ground with the forehead in worship or submission as part of the Chinese custom). I would also kowtow to the memorial tablets of the Holy Heavenly Spirits and my ancestors. I would also visit and greet my close communities related in lineage, and go to the graveyards of my grandparents and great-grandparents to pay my tribute to them. 

‘Of course, there are a lot of fireworks to set off. You can smell smokes from the fireworks, so even today when I smell the smokes of fireworks I remember the Spring Festival. The extensive festival season starts as early as the 23rd of the last month of the lunar year and ends on the 15th of the first month of the lunar year, about 22 days altogether. This is only one small vision of the festival in the northern countryside of China. Celebrations in cities are quite different. 

‘After I moved to the UK, our celebrations have been limited to eating dumplings and calling family members (both in the UK and back in China) to say happy Spring Festival, and sometimes watching the yearly Spring Festival gala organised and hosted by the official Chinese TV broadcaster like BBC 1, and no more than that.’

This side of the world, according to, London’s Chinese New Year celebration is the largest outside Asia. The celebration includes colourful parades, performances and displays in and around Chinatown and London’s West End. People gather to watch stage performances and eat traditional Chinese food 1.

Please remember that it pays to be prepared, and get your translation done ahead of time, and to know when the availability of your desired target language translators might change. My Language Connection will ensure that you take into consideration how public holidays in your target markets may impact your import-export efforts when you place your translation projects with us

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