Release Date: 
Thursday, February 11, 2021

Chinese New Year 2021

Chinese New Year graphic, with stylized 2021, image of an ox, and other artistic flourishes

This message is one of many related to our diverse community’s numerous unique holidays, including cultural, historic, and religious observances throughout the year. I am likely to write about the holidays or cultural observances that mean the most to you as they occur throughout the year. Please let me know if you want to learn my plans about a holiday that is specifically important to you.

On Friday, February 12, millions of people will celebrate the Chinese New Year, the most important holiday in China. This holiday is also celebrated by people of Chinese heritage and others worldwide.

What is the Chinese New Year?

The Chinese calendar is lunar, so the Chinese New Year can range from January 21 to February 20 on the Gregorian (solar) calendar that the U.S. follows. The holiday coincides with the Lunar New Year, which is also celebrated in many Asian countries.

In China, the New Year is sometimes called Chunjie, or the Spring Festival. It marks the end of winter’s coldest days and anticipates the planting and growing season.

In China, much of the economy has traditionally been agrarian (farm-based), so the concepts of growth and harvest are central. Some people pray to gods or to their ancestors for a good planting and harvest season.

The holiday technically lasts 15 days leading up to the New Year. Every year has a symbolic animal, according to the Chinese Zodiac, which rotates every 12 years. This year is the Year of the Ox.

Celebrations and observances

A key component of the Chinese New Year celebration is the reunion of the family. Family members are expected to travel to their family’s home of origin, or to their village, to celebrate together whenever possible. Businesses are closed so families can spend time together.

Lavish decorations, costumes, dances, parades, and certain foods are traditional for the holiday. I wrote in more detail about this holiday last year. I encourage you to read it.

The Chinese New Year ends with the Lantern Festival and the first full moon of the year, which is considered a romantic holiday, similar to Valentine’s Day.

To all who celebrate: Gong xi fa cai! (Congratulations on the Good Fortune!)

Russ Kavalhuna