Just when you started giving up on your New Year’s resolutions, along comes a great opportunity to try again, Chinese style. Chinese New Year 2015 falls on 19 February. Also known as the Spring Festival, this iconic cultural event is celebrated well beyond the borders of China today. Public and private festivities including dancing, parades, and fireworks occur in a number of countries with significant Chinese populations like Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia, as well as in cities all over the world from London to San Francisco. Traditionally, Chinese New Year activities take place around the family, with plenty of food, gifts, and fireworks. It’s a time to spend with loved ones, decorate the home, and do some serious spring cleaning. But it can be staggering to think about the true scale and depth of tradition for Chinese people at this time of year. The favourite yearly festival of more than 1.3 billion people comes with some amazing statistics. Here are 8 fascinating facts about Chinese New Year to give your own celebrations a little perspective.
1. Travelling at Chinese New Year is pretty hectic.
Last year, passengers embarked on over 3.6 billion journeys during New Year travelling season, including 42 million flights and 258 million train journeys. The most common way of getting home to celebrate, however, was by road, with an astonishing 3.2 billion estimated road trips.
2. The date of Chinese New Year is different every year...
.. or so it appears. In fact, it occurs on the same dates every year on the Chinese traditional calendar. But because this calendar is lunar, those dates aren't the same as the ones on the calendar we use for most purposes today. This means that on any given year, Chinese New Year falls somewhere between 21 January and 20 February.
3. 2015 is a year of the Goat (or Sheep).
People born during Goat years are said to be gentle, persevering, creative and honest. Sound good? Maybe that's why Goats also tend to be popular! There are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac and 2014 was a year of the Snake.
4. Chinese New Year celebrations actually last 15 days.
Although many Chinese return to work on the 4th day of the New Year, festivities last from New Year’s Eve, when it’s traditional for families to get together, until the 15th day of the month, otherwise known as the Lantern Festival. If you're planning to make cheap calls to China to wish friends and family a happy Chinese New Year, better do it by 22 February or they'll likely be back at work.
5. Fireworks can become so out of control they're banned in some places.
Pyrotechnics, whether amateur or professional, play a major role in bringing in the traditional New Year in China and beyond. So much so that the public proliferation of fireworks at this time of year has led to many accidents and subsequent restrictions. There is even an outright ban in Vietnam, and in the centres of cities like Beijing, although such bans are often impractical and ignored.
6. For married couples, it's a time to cough up.
One of the more expensive traditions associated with Chinese New Year is the presentation of cash gifts in small red envelopes, or 'lai see'. It's expected that married couples or elderly people present these delightful gifts to unmarried relatives and juniors. But whatever the currency, take care that your gift amounts to a lucky number. 8 of anything is great; stick to even numbers, but 4 is to be avoided at all costs.
7. The year 2015? More like 4712!
This year, Chinese New Year celebrates the arrival of the year 4712 by some people’s reckoning. That’s if you start counting from the time of Huangdi, the Yellow Emperor, in 2697 BC. In truth, though, Chinese years are rarely counted in this way, as the calendar is traditionally cyclical.
8. This year, China’s going iPhone crazy.
Apple has just unveiled its first ever TV ad exclusively targeting Chinese New Year and 5 brand new Apple stores have opened across the country ahead of the holiday. They will almost certainly benefit from the typical increase in spending on luxury goods associated with the festival, and some analysts even think there will be more iPhones sold in China in the run up to New Year than in the USA during the Christmas 2014 season.
What better time to call friends or family in China and share your thoughts about the year ahead? Take advantage of JustCall’s great rates for making cheap international calls and wish someone a happy and prosperous Year of the Goat!