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Ten surprising customs of Chinese lunar New Year

Editor: Wang Lingxiao 丨Xinhua

02-01-2017 10:43 BJT

Full coverage: 2017 Spring Festival

BEIJING, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- Happy Chinese New Year 2017 -- the lunar Year of the Rooster. The New Year holiday season begins on Jan. 27 and will last for 15 days. Wondering how Chinese spend the holiday? The following customs and taboos may give you some clues.

1. The date varies

The date of the Chinese lunar New Year is based on a combination of the lunar and solar movement, so it is different in each year. It always falls between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20.

2. Chinese lunar New Year is named after zodiac animals

There are in total 12 zodiac signs on a circle: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. The zodiac traditionally begins with the sign of the Rat and ends with the Pig. The Chinese zodiac and its variation are popular in some East Asian countries, for example Vietnam, Japan and Mongolia.

3. The world's largest human migration happens during the holiday season

Around 200 million Mainland Chinese people travel a long distance to go back home for an annual reunion with their families and it is estimated that 3.5 billion journeys are made during the 15-day holiday seasons, the largest of its kind in the world.

4. There is the world's biggest consumption of fireworks

At midnight of the New Year Eve or "Chuxi" in Chinese, it is a tradition to set off fireworks to send off the old year and welcome in the new. No where in the world can compete with China in the consumption of fireworks as Chinese people believe that the sound of them can drive off evil spirits.

5. The New Year Celebration ends with the Lantern Festival

In the 15th evening of the first lunar month, Chinese families gather for dinner and light lanterns. They write wishes on the lanterns and let them fly or float to remind gods of their wishes.

6. During the 15-day holiday season, each day has a special schedule

Chinese New Year celebration lasts for 15 days, each day with a special schedule. For example, the first day of the New Year is the time to visit the seniors of the family and the second day is for the married daughter to visit their parents.

There are also things that are not supposed to do during the holidays. If you do, you may come across bad luck or evil spirits in the coming year, as superstition puts it.

1. Avoid taking medicine

It is a taboo for a person to brew herbal or take medicine on the first day of the lunar month, because people believe if they do they will get ill for the whole year.

2. Pay off debts before the New Year's Eve

If you borrowed money from your friends last, you are supposed to pay back the money before the New Year. Lending money on the first day of the lunar month is also prohibited.

3. Needle work should not be done

The use of knives and scissors is to be avoided for any possible accident. Whether harming yourself or other people is thought to be inauspicious.

4. Avoid haircut during the first lunar month

Chinese people believe that if you get your hair cut in the first lunar month, it will do harm to your maternal uncle, although there is no evidence how this will be done.

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