In the West, you might only be mildly aware of the biggest holiday that happens every January or February (depending on the lunar calendar) over in Asia. Chinese New Year, or Lunar New Year, is a holiday that is celebrated by all the Asian nations. Each country has its own unique spin on it, but it is most revered in China.
Not surprisingly, China is THE place to be during Chinese New Year. As someone on the outside looking in, here are some pointers for you should you happen to be in China during the biggest holiday of the year.
- Travel is Hectic. The Chinese New Year causes quite a stir with every mode of transport from cars to trains to planes. So, if you’re planning to get in on the Chinese New Year festivities, do yourself a favor and arrive well in advance of the holiday. Otherwise, you can expect trains to sell out, flights to be delayed or canceled, and other inconveniences.
- Traditional Dinner. By and large, one of the best things about Chinese New Year is the big traditional dinner. Chinese people are incredibly friendly so if you’ve made some friends, chances are they will invite you to join them. In Chinese culture, the more, the merrier. The meal for this holiday is vast and incredibly celebratory. Be prepared to eat, eat, and eat some more. Oh, and to drink a lot of alcohol with it too. You’ll have pijiu (beer) and baijiu (a strong clear alcohol that could literally melt the paint off a wall).
- Take Sightseeing with a Grain of Salt. Everything is closed during the holiday. That means that everyone is off work. So, if you’re in Beijing and you’re off to see the Great Wall, guess what? So are millions of Chinese people! That is the downside to visiting China during the best Chinese holiday of the year. If crowds don’t bother you, then go for it.
- Be Prepared for Fireworks. Chinese people are very superstitious and they let off lots of fireworks because it is supposed to bring them good fortune and riches. It’s really nice to see so many of them light up the sky. However, with so many people doing it, it adds more pollutants to the air. There are no noise ordinances (none that have ever been enforced anyway) so it is very typical for the fireworks to go on all night long. 24/7 fireworks tend to get annoying after a while, so take earplugs.
- Catch the New Year’s Gala. When you’re eating that big traditional Chinese New Year dinner with your new Chinese friends, there is a 100% chance they will turn on CCTV so you can watch the Chinese New Year shows. These events are spectacular with lavish costumes, brilliant songs, and beautiful dances. Plus, you might even be surprised to see some famous people you know. Celine Dion has made a cameo as has the incredible Jackie Chan!
Chinese New Year is a holiday that makes you happy to celebrate. It helps you remember to embrace life, love, and the hope of what is yet to come.