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Chinese New Year’s history and traditions


At Mountain House, we love to celebrate our community’s cultural diversity!  One of the biggest cultural events taking place this month is the Chinese New Year. The Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year 🌕 or Spring Festival in different parts of the world, is one of the most important among the traditional Chinese festivals and occurs annually for around two weeks. 

This year, the Bankhead Theater in Livermore will be hosting a Lunar New Year event where people of all ages can learn about Chinese culture and celebrate the beginning of the Year of the Rat! 🐀  Are you interested in learning more about the celebration and its history before the special event on January 25th? We have some fun facts to prep you for one of the most widely celebrated holidays in Asia. 🎊


The festival goes way back

Chinese New Year’s celebrations can be traced back to the Shang Dynasty, which took place around 3,500 years ago. The holiday started to become more widely celebrated during the Han Dynasty. Originally it was celebrated by people holding sacrificial ceremonies in honor of gods and ancestors. 

There are 12 Chinese zodiacs

Much like the western horoscopes, the Chinese have 12 zodiac symbols but instead of each month belonging to a sign, each year belongs to one of the Chinese zodiac animals. The selection and order of the animals are believed to influence people's lives, and it’s also believed that the positive traits of your birth year’s zodiac animal are bestowed upon you.

The origin of the day is based on a mythical monster 🐲

In ancient times, a sea monster named Nián would come up once a year to feast on animals and humans. One year, a man decided to fight Nián by decorating his village in red, and when Nián showed up that night to feast, he was terrified of the red decorations. The man also used firecrackers to scare off Nián from the village. To this day, the color red and firecrackers have become a crucial part of the New Year celebration.

Speaking of firecrackers… 🎆

The Chinese New Year is the biggest day for firecrackers in the world!  People stay up until midnight to set off their firecrackers to scare off monsters and bad luck. They are also set off in the morning to welcome the new year and promote good luck. 

You’re supposed to eat A LOT of dumplings 🥟

Traditionally, dumplings were eaten for every meal during the Chinese New Year. Even though these pillows of magic are delicious, people usually only eat dumplings on New Year’s Eve or for the first breakfast of the year. Spring rolls are also a popular meal to enjoy during this special time. 

🏮The Chinese New Year ends with the Lantern Festival 🏮

The first full moon of the (lunar) year marks the end of the Chinese New Year and is celebrated with a Lantern Festival! This day is also the day China celebrates Valentine’s Day. 

We hope you are excited to take part in one of the world’s biggest holidays! Now is the time to pick out your favorite red outfit, go eat some amazing food, and get ready to check out the traditional dances at the Lunar New Year event right next to Mountain House!