The Chinese New Year aka the Spring Festival is more than 4,000 years old. The longest holiday of the year, the national holiday begins on January 25th and ends on February 8th. All stores are closed during the first five days of the festival so if you’re visiting during this time stock up on supplies before the holiday begins.
Though the national holiday starts on January 25th, the traditional start of the Spring Festival is on January 2nd with the Laba Festival. During this festival, ceremonies are held to ask the ancestors and gods for a successful harvest and good fortune. People also gather New Year supplies on this day as well.
You’re probably familiar with the Chinese zodiac from Chinese restaurants that had the zodiac animals as placemats, but did you know that 2020 will be the Year of the Rat? The rat is the first animal in the zodiac and is seen as a sign of surplus and wealth. Married couples, also, used to pray to rats for children because of their reproduction rate.
Sounds great to be a rat right? And it is in every year but the Year of the Rat. The year of your zodiac animal is thought to be unlucky. One possible explanation for this is the belief that children can easily be taken by demons and your zodiac year is thought to be your rebirth year.
To avoid this bad luck, many people wear red all year. They may also decorate their house in red for protection and may also carry small jade charms with red cords for good luck.
Speaking of bad luck, you should avoid saying negative words during the festival because you may jinx yourself or your loved ones otherwise. Also try not to break anything as this will break your connection to prosperity and fortune. You aren’t supposed to clean either during the festival as doing so may sweep your good luck away, so enjoy the vacation from cleaning.
The Spring Festival is a major time for travel as everyone goes to visit family and friends, so expect the first and last few days of the festival to be the busiest travel times. Many stores may close for the entirety of the festival so arrive a few days early if you want to go shopping. Hotels are also very busy during this time of year and prices increase everywhere. However, if you want to experience Chinese culture, the Spring Festival is a good time to visit.
If you plan to travel during the Spring Festival, here are some tips.
- Try to prearrange everything – book hotels and transportation ahead of time as prices rise as the festival gets closer. Make sure you book your flights first, so you know where to book your hotel. Also make sure to get your visa applications in well in advance as they take longer to process during the festival season.
- Try to be patient and cheerful – with such a busy holiday period, avoiding issues is very, very difficult. Being patient, cheerful and ideally flexible will help you get good alternate arrangements if something happens.
- Wear layers – though it is winter, the temperature does vary depending on the region. Some places will have mild temperatures during the day and be freezing at night while others stay cold all day and night. Layering will help you adjust as necessary.
Want to experience the Spring Festival for yourself? The first step is to get a Chinese Tourist Visa-L.