How To Celebrate Chinese New Year As An Expat In China

Rachel Weiss
Rachel Weiss

I'm an American who has been in China for three years! Read more about my adventures here: www.rachelmeetschina.com

 / Jan 28, 2019

The Chinese Spring Festival is one of the most important holidays in China. The Spring Festival is determined by the Lunar Calendar and usually falls between late January – early February. The holiday is officially 3 days long, but most people will have one week off from work to visit their family and celebrate together.

 



Spring Festival Traditions


There are many special Chinese New Year Traditions. A few of these traditions:


  • Making dumplings or a special reunion together
  • Watching the New Year’s Eve Gala on CCTV that counts down to the New Year
  • Giving family members lucky money (red envelopes)
  • Exchanging gifts
  • Shooting fireworks
  • Wearing lots of red
  • Hanging lanterns and other decorations
  • Watching dragon and lion dances 




There are many more traditions for the Spring Festival. Every family in China might have different ways to celebrate Chinese New Year, depending on what region and city they're in, as well as their own personal family traditions.


Traveling During the Spring Festival

 

Because the Spring Festival is such a big holiday, there will be many people traveling. This time of the year is world's largest human migration. Many people will use this time to not only visit family, but also explore a new place. Some popular destinations include Xian, Yangshuo, Beijing, Suzhou, and Hangzhou. Here are some other top places expats in China should visit!



If you’re planning to travel in China during this time, make sure you book your train tickets early and get to the train station early. Read more about how to travel by train in China.

 

While celebrating in China is a unique way to experience many Chinese traditions, many expats take advantage of the long holiday time to travel outside of China. There are many benefits to traveling internationally during this time – you don’t have to rush to buy train tickets to travel domestically, and you can enjoy a different country and (and warmer weather if traveling to a south eastern Asian country!)


Many other countries besides China follow a Lunar Calendar and celebrate their own New Year. In Vietnam they celebrate Tet, and in Thailand they have Full Moon parties, so there is always something fun happening.




Here's how several teachers in China will celebrate the Chinese New Year:

 

“I'm going to celebrate in Hong Kong by watching the parade and fireworks. It's my first year in China!”

 – Ryan Rubi, Shenzhen, China (@ryanrubi)





“Off to Cambodia to travel around for 9 days! Beyond excited for this, think it will be completely different to anything that i am used to!”

– Ashleigh Silk, Nanjing, China (ash_silk)


"I'm going to do some some major catch up on games and friends that I've had to ignore for a while. For the second half I will travel to Xi'an and have a relaxing week. Can't wait!

– Nile Christopher Pitts, Nanjing, China



“I'm off to Vancouver, Canada. I plan to explore, go skiing and snowboarding but most importantly eat my way through the city!”

–Johnny Bingham, Nanjing, China (@johnny_bingham)


“Traveling to the Philippines 🇵🇭. It will be the best time of the year to travel there and i can imagine seeing a lot of familiar faces , since most teachers will be heading there for Chinese New Years.”                

–Charlise Rossouw, Nanjing, China (Instagram: @charlisemrossouw)




 "The first week of our holiday I am spending it in Nanjing. I will be visiting with some of my Chinese friends and their families, which I'm very excited for! Then, the second week of our holiday I will be going to South Korea. I'm very excited for everything!"

– Cherice Neely, Nanjing, China




Celebrating the Chinese New Year


There are so many ways to celebrate the Chinese New Year and join the festivities. Whether you celebrate by trying some Chinese traditions for yourself, or use the holiday time to travel and explore a new place, you’ll be sure to have a fantastic time!


Check out the other National Holidays in China and how people celebrate them.

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Rachel Weiss

I'm an American who has been in China for three years! Read more about my adventures here: www.rachelmeetschina.com