Lunar New Year: What It Is and How It's Celebrated

chinese lanterns on display

Lunar New Year is the most recognized holiday in China. The celebration is also referred to as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival. Some people believe the holiday originated about 3,500 years ago during the reign of the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 B.C.). During that time, people prayed to the harvest gods and honored their ancestors. Other people wove a tale about a mythical beast. According to the legend, the creature appeared on New Year's Eve to destroy crops and livestock. At first, the townspeople put food at their door to appease the monster. Later, they used loud noises and the color red to scare the creature away. The holiday has become more festive throughout the years. Most people decorate windows and doors with red lanterns and couplets.

Types of Deals to Look Out for During Lunar New Year

In China, many stores remain closed during the holiday and grant employees a week off. Students also get time off from school. For this reason, Chinese communities make preparations well before the holiday and stock up on food and supplies at least a month ahead of time. If you want to participate in a traditional Lunar New Year, you'll need to prepare in advance as well.

Shop local Asian markets

In the days leading up to the holiday, look for authentic products at local Asian markets. You will find an assortment of blooming flowers, red packets, and decorations.

Try online Asian stores

You can order gifts, groceries, and goods from popular Asian stores like Lazada, RedMart, and Shopee.

Get discounts at major retailers

During the holidays, stores like Target, Walmart, and Party City offer discounts on greeting cards and decorations.

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Buy Lunar New Year sneakers

Previously, companies like adidas, Nike, and New Balance released Lunar New Year-themed sneakers.

Budget-Friendly Ways to Celebrate the Lunar New Year

The Lunar New Year brings a plethora of traditions. Many of these ways of celebrating the holiday are affordable and low-cost ideas. From giving the house a thorough cleaning to get rid of any bad luck from the previous year to decorating the home with red lanterns and other symbols to bring good fortune for the upcoming year.

Enjoy an elaborate feast

Cook traditional Asian dishes and gather the family together for a delicious meal.

Watch the fireworks

At 12:01 a.m., in Chinese communities across the world, you'll hear a symphony of firecrackers and see elaborate pyrotechnic displays.

Swap gifts and envelopes

Comparable to Christmastime in the West, people exchange gifts and red envelopes with money. Generally, the presents represent good luck. Popular items include candy, fruits, tea, and alcohol.

Attend parades and festivals

For prosperity and good luck throughout the year, people dress in dragon and lion costumes and perform dance routines, clap cymbals, beat drums, and light lanterns. The zodiac animal for the year is also part of the celebration.

Visit a temple

Many believers go to the temple on the third day of the Lunar New Year to light incense and pray for blessings for the year ahead. Some temples also have dragon and lion performances.

DIY Ideas for Celebrating the Lunar New Year

Generally, you can find parades, performances, and firework displays in local neighborhoods or on television. Still, here are a few DIY ideas you can try to celebrate the holiday.

  • Make paper lanterns with the kids.

  • Adorn the home with scarlet decor.

  • Hang couplets on the door.

  • Brighten the house with a bouquet of blooming flowers.

  • Place a kumquat plant in the home.

Hold a reunion dinner for the Lunar New Year

The Lunar New Year is celebrated differently depending on the region, religion, and ethnicity. Still, with so many activities taking place, it's easy to forget about the primary reason for the holiday. The reunion dinner is an essential part of the Lunar New Year celebration. Several generations travel throughout the world to gather around the dining table to pray, honor the ancestors, and give thanks. Dishes considered to bring good luck include fish and dumplings.

What We Like About the Lunar New Year

One of the best things about the holiday is the no chore rule. So, give the house a thorough cleaning before the holiday starts. For the first five days, you are not allowed to sweep, take out the trash, or do laundry. There's a long list of traditions based on superstition. Nevertheless, there are several benefits of following the customs. For instance:

  • It brings the family together.

  • It's just like Christmas. You get to exchange gifts with family and friends.

  • Tradition dictates you wear new clothes as a sign of a fresh start. It also sets the tone for the rest of the year.

  • Food is plentiful, delicious, and brings good fortune throughout the year.

  • The performances are exciting to watch.

  • You get to view colorful events. The lanterns and firework displays are mesmerizing.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Lunar New Year

Is there a Lunar New Year?

The Lunar New Year marks the beginning of the lunar calendar, which corresponds with the new moon. It is customary to dedicate each year to one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac.

Why is Lunar New Year celebrated?

Like the celebration in the United States, the Chinese holiday marks the end of the previous year and the beginning of the new year. But unlike the New Year custom in the West, the Lunar New Year holiday lasts for 16 days.

Which day is the Lunar New Year celebrated on?

There is no specific date for the Lunar New Year. In fact, the date rotates each year according to the new moon, beginning somewhere between January 21 and February 20.

about the author

Tiara Rea-Palmer
Director of Partnerships
As an expert in online savings and an avid deal enthusiast, Tiara heads up retail relations at CouponFollow, where she stays up-to-date on all the best deals, discounts, and freebies, as well as negotiates exclusive coupons and offers for CouponFollow users. In her free time, you can find Tiara writing, DIY crafting on a budget, and traveling with free rewards card miles.