Let me start by saying…. Happy Chinese New Year everyone! Well, almost! Chinese New Year starts on the 16th this year.

In this post, I’m going to introduce Chinese New Year, talk briefly about how the 12-year zodiac works, outline some common traditions and then I’ve prepared a vocabulary and phrase list for you at the bottom! After that, I’ve given you some further reading in case you’re wanting to learn more and Chinese New Year!

Ok, let’s get started.

You might be interested to know that unlike ‘our’ New Year, Chinese New Year is never on a fixed date. The reason for this is that the Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar.

This year, Chinese New Year begins on Friday, the 16th of February. Just a few days after this blog post comes out.

The celebrations will be lasting over two weeks! Young Chinese who moved to the big cities for work will be flocking back home to their 老家 ‘hometown’ to spend the New Year with their family.

Chinese families typically gather for a big reunion meal (饺子 ‘dumplings’ will be eaten) on New Year’s Eve and then they clean their home on New Year’s Day to rid the house of all the bad energy and misfortune and make room for a fresh start.

Children will be given 红包 ‘red envelopes’ filled with lucky money. The popular messaging app, WeChat, now even has an inbuilt red envelope setting, which allows you to send lucky money digitally. Cool, right?

This year will be the year of the dog. If you’re unsure of exactly how the Chinese zodiac works, here’s a quick explanation:

The Chinese zodiac consists of a twelve-year cycle. With each year in the cycle corresponding to an animal. So, this year is the dog year, next year will be the pig and so on.

The twelve animals are:

Tiger – 老虎

Rooster – 鸡

Rat – 老鼠

Ox – 牛

Rabbit – 兔子

Monkey – 猴子

Dog – 狗

Pig – 猪

Horse – 马

Snake – 蛇

Dragon – 龙

Goat – 羊

According to Asian astrology, your Chinese zodiac animal determines a lot about your personality.

Check out this link https://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-zodiac/ to see which animal you are!

Here’s a Chinese New Year themed vocabulary list. You can print it out and stick it on your wall if you like!

Chinese new year phrases

Further reading:

Learning Chinese Vocabulary: The Ultimate Guide

Lucky foods during Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year 2018

Chinese New Year taboos


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