Chinese New Year or Spring Festival?

“The Chinese ancient civilization attracts you.”


Writing “spring” using a calligraphy brush

This year Chinese New Year lands on February 19, 2015. Since it’s based on the lunar calendar, the start date of CNY shifts annually. The celebration typically lasts about fifteen days. A “Wood Goat” year is slotted for 2015, an event that only happens every 60 years.

Since the 20th century, this festive time period has also been known as the Spring Festival in China. This is because when the Chinese adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1912, “new year” became associated with January 1. Chinese New Year was then known as lichun or the “start of spring” (the shift in seasons usually occurs on February 4th or 5th in the Chinese calendar).

Interesting fact: While it’s common to have a week-long vacation for Chinese nowadays, during Mao Zedong’s rule, festivities were banned.

Which name do you prefer: Chinese New Year or Spring Festival?

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  1. I think that I prefer Chinese New Year. Here in the Midwest, February is too early to call it Spring. It would only be depressing to think that Spring could have weather like we will have in February.

  2. Veronica Roth says

    I’m looking forward to it! Here in Van there is a strong love of Chinese New Year celebration and C and I always have a little something for ourselves to welcome the year. Last year I painted those three white horses, one year we had the dragoon statue in the middle of the table, but usually we always have oranges, red and gold decorations and a little bit of lovely homemade Chinese food. Oh, this past weekend I was shopping at the Osaka market, a sort of Asian fusion market, as saw the cutest little kitschy statues of waving hand cats, two bobble-headed children kissing and a bobble-headed grandmother and grandfather nodding. I might pick up one of those just for fun because I think wood goat will be a silly and good for the soul year. :D (Of course, as usual, I have very little idea of what I’m talking about…lol)

    • Jennifer J. Chow says

      Sounds like you’re celebrating in style, Veronica. Can’t wait to see what artistic creation you’ll think of next!

  3. California has traditionally had Chinese New Year festivities.We used to go to Los Angeles and celebrate with all the fruit and vegetable vendors since my uncle was a trucker of produce.

    I’m confused though, I read it’s year of the goat and also read it’s year of the sheep. Two different animals with two different meanings. Which is it?

    • Jennifer J. Chow says

      I’ve been to the downtown festival, too, Mona. So to confuse you some more, it can also be called year of the ram. It’s the same character for all three of the translations.

  4. Since I became familiar with the term “Chinese New Year” in San Francisco, I think I’d like to stick to it. Spring Festival would be too general. I would think of Easter, spring break…
    I saw the parade a few times in SF and it was impressive. Love it.

    • Jennifer J. Chow says

      CNY is definitely more specific. Would love to see the SF celebration sometime. I’ve only seen dragon boat racing up there.


  1. […] in the lunar year. It happens to fall on March 5, 2015 this year. It marks the last day of the Spring Festival. People go out at night and watch brilliantly lit lanterns in the sky. Sometimes riddles are placed […]

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