Reeling in the New Year in China + New Year’s Quiz!

China is a country that does not generally celebrate New Year’s in the Western sense. The country has different traditions regarding New Year’s. Learn in this post how Chinese people celebrate New Year’s Eve and test your skills with our quiz!

In Western countries, December 31st is considered to be New Year’s Eve, and is a popular holiday where people celebrate the passing year and carry on until midnight. Western traditions include drinking champagne at the strike of midnight, making new year’s resolutions, attending parties on New Year’s Eve, having a ruckus time with noisemakers and watching the ball drop in Times Square, New York.

All of these celebratory activities are pretty well known and common in places like the USA. China has different traditions regarding New Year’s, as China has traditionally adhered to a lunar calendar rather than the Gregorian calendar that is generally accepted amongst the majority of the world. Modern China also follows the Gregorian calendar, like the rest of world but China’s traditional holidays and celebrations are still based off of its historical use of the lunar calendar.

This means that December 31st is not considered the last day of the year for Chinese culture, the last day occurs during the lunar new year, which fluctuates each year, and is known by many names, including Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year, Spring Festival, etc. The holiday is a weeklong celebration that is the largest holiday in China, and causes logistical issues with the entirety of Chinese transit systems.

Western New Year’s is celebrated in the large cities that have more influence from Western society, such as Beijing and Shanghai. In these metropolises, partygoers will be found merrymaking and partying until the sun rises on January first. In Shanghai, there is a light show and celebration on the famed Bund each New Year’s Eve. The expatriate community is in full force that night, as people enjoy one to three days off, as it is a national holiday in China.

In cities people will use this time to relax and potentially travel. Although it is a short holiday, city-dwellers will make short trips to the rural and scenic areas that surround. As a whole, it will be more like a short day off for most Chinese citizens. The majority of the older generation will not go out that night to celebrate, while the largest proportion of Chinese people to celebrate Western New Year’s will be the younger generation, particularly those with more interaction with expatriates from Western countries and those with the discretionary funds to afford a night out on the town.

China is certainly becoming more and more accustomed to Western society, but in increments. The huge cities on China’s east coast will always be the forerunners, and that is where you find the largest number of New Year’s Eve revelers. The cities have the money and outside influences to make the celebrations possible. When all is said and done, the traditional holidays like Spring Festival will always trump Western ones as long as China is filled with Chinese people.