Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development > Chinese Culture

Chinese New Year—Spring Festival (1)


The Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival (Chinese name: 春节) is the most important and widely celebrated festival on China’s lunar calendar. It is the most important traditional festival for all Chinese people from around the world. During this festival the Han nationality and a few ethnic minorities will hold all assortments of activities to celebrate this festival. These activities include worshiping gods, worshiping ancestors, removing the old and welcoming the new, welcoming happiness and receiving blessings and praying for a harvest year. These activities have various forms and colors with very strong local flavors. During the first day of the lunar New Year, people will come back home and reunite with their families, relatives and friends.

The Spring Festival has been celebrated in China for around 4,000 years. In different times the Spring Festival also had different names. For example, before the Qin Dynasty (221 BC-207 BC), the festival was named Shangri (上日), Yuanri (元日), Gaisui (改岁) and others. During the Han Dynasties (Western and Eastern Han Dynasties) from 202 BC – 220 AD, the festival was named Sanchao (三朝), Suidan (岁旦), Zhengdan (正旦) and others. During the Tang, Song, Yuan and Ming Dynasties, the festival was named Yuandan (元旦), Yuan (元), Suiri (岁日) and others. When it came to the Qing Dynasty, the festival was always named Yuandan (元旦) or Yuanri (元日).

The Spring Festival doesn’t only have one origin but several. One theory says it comes from the famous Laji (腊祭, or sacrifice in lunar December); one theory says it comes from the ceremony of witchcraft and wizardry; one says it comes from the Ghost Festival and so on. Among them the most accepted theory is it originates from the rise of the Yu and Shun (虞舜) Emperors (the earliest rulers of the Chinese nationality). One day when Emperor Shun ascended to the throne followed by his subordinates and followers to worship Heaven and Earth over 2,000 years ago, the day has been remembered as the festival by the generations to come.


     Keywords: Spring Festival Chinese New Year


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