Chinese New Year

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

Chinese New Year, the precise date of which is determined each year on the lunar calendar, is the most important of nine major holidays celebrated by most Chinese. Called Chunjie or Nongli Nian in Chinese, its practices vary by location and by the Chinese population celebrating it both in China and abroad. Each year is named sequentially after the 12 animals that came to see Buddha (for instance, the Year of the Horse began on 31 January 2014 and the Year of the Sheep on 18 February 2015; the year of the Monkey will commence on 8 February 2016). New Year traditions are practiced by almost all Chinese, whether they actually believe in them or not, because they offer a sense of identity and a touchstone to the past.