Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival (春节 – chūnjié), falls on a slightly different day in January or February of each year, as it follows the Chinese lunisolar calendar, rather than the regular Gregorian calendar used in most parts of the world.
It is also known as Lunar New Year, which is a term that’s more inclusive of the many East Asian cultures that celebrate it, including Koreans, Vietnamese, Tibetans, and others. For 2024, Chinese New Year falls on February 10, 2024, beginning the Year of the Dragon—the wood Dragon to be precise!
As the Chinese New year approaches, remember to brush up on your Chinese New year greetings in Cantonese, Mandarin, or both. We have audio recordings to help you nail your pronunciations.
Also check out our detailed post on Chinese New Year Traditions for a list of DOs and DON’Ts to start the new year on the right foot!
More On the Chinese zodiac Sign for 2024
The Chinese zodiac sign of the Dragon represents power, success, honor, and luck among the Chinese. You can see why many Chinese parents want to have children in Dragon years! Hopefully, the year of the Wood Dragon will be a creative and auspicious year of progress for everyone.
Chinese New year Dates
Again, Chinese New Year dates are dictated by the Chinese lunisolar calendar, so it is celebrated on a different date in January or February each year.
The following table gives you a quick glance at Chinese New Year dates for the next 12 year cycle of the Chinese zodiac (as well as recent years). For more information on the Chinese Zodiac, see our post on Chinese Zodiac signs.
Take note that while the dates below mark the start of the new year, the celebration actually begins on New Year’s Eve, the night before, when families gather for a big New Year’s Eve dinner, or nián yèfàn (年夜饭).
|Year||Chinese New Year Date||Chinese Zodiac Sign|
|2021||February 12 (Friday)||Ox|
|2022||February 1 (Tuesday)||Tiger|
|2023||January 22 (Sunday)||Rabbit|
|2024||February 10 (Saturday)||Dragon|
|2025||January 29 (Wednesday)||Snake|
|2026||February 17 (Tuesday)||Horse|
|2027||February 6 (Saturday)||Goat|
|2028||January 26 (Wednesday)||Monkey|
|2030||February 3 (Sunday)||Dog|
|2031||January 23 (Thursday)||Pig|
|2032||February 11 (Wednesday)||Rat|
What is Chinese New Year?
The holiday we sometimes call Chinese New Year in English is known as chūnjié in Chinese, or Spring Festival. There are similar holidays in other East Asian cultures, though they are culturally unique with their own practices and traditions. Thus, the broader term for this collection of holidays is Lunar New Year. It’s the biggest holiday of the year for many people across Asia.
Lunar New Year falls on February 10, 2024. In Chinese culture, we will gear up for a big New Year’s Eve dinner on the evening of Friday, February 9, 2024. We prepare symbolic foods, which represent wishes for health and longevity, prosperity, family togetherness, happiness/sweetness/laughter, and progress.
Everyone where’s red, a lucky color, and visits family and friends with auspicious gifts of oranges and other fruits (except pears, which represent separation!), flowers/plants, candies, and special food items like sweet rice cakes, taro cake, or turnip cake.
Adults (more specifically, married adults) give out red envelopes (hóngbāo) filled with lucky money to children and elders, and everyone enjoys fireworks, parades, banquets, and brightly lit lanterns at night.
Start off the Chinese New Year right with a symbolic dish like Money Bag Dumplings. They’re fun to make, delicious, and could bring you good fortune in 2024!
How Long Does Chinese New Year Last?
In China, it is a more than two-week-long celebration, starting with New Year’s Eve, and ending with the Lantern Festival, known in China as 元宵节 (yuánxiāo jié), on the 15th day of the year.
Officially, it is a 7-day public holiday in China, during which businesses and schools close and people have a chance to travel back to their home towns and villages to be with family.
Everyone enjoys eating, drinking, cooking, visiting family and friends, and catching up on things that happened in the past year. On these visits, it’s all about exchanging good wishes, red envelopes, and of course, enjoying delicious traditional foods together.
When is the year of the Dragon?
The Chinese Zodiac is a repeating 12-year cycle, so the last time it was the year of the Dragon, it was 2012. Then, it was the Year of the Water Dragon. 2024 will be the Year of the Wood Dragon.
You may know that the Chinese Zodiac consists of twelve animal signs, but each year also includes one of the 5 elements, metal, water, wood, fire, and earth.
Each of those elements has associated meanings. Here they are on a rather simplistic level:
- Wood: creativity, imagination
- Fire: passion, adventure
- Earth: patience, stability
- Metal: persistence, ambition
- Water: agility, eloquence
Recent Dragon Years include: 2024, 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, 1952, 1940, 1928, and 1916.
(Though technically, if you were born in January or February, you could’ve been born in the prior lunisolar year, the year of the Rabbit. Use this calculator to enter your birthdate and get your correct sign. Learn more about what your sign is on our Chinese Zodiac post.)
We have several Dragons in the family, including Bill (a card-carrying Wood Dragon), Justin (an Earth Dragon), and Judy’s parents (Metal Dragons).
What is the Lantern Festival?
On the 15th day of the Chinese New Year, the Spring Festival holiday comes to an end with the Yuan Xiao or Lantern Festival (元宵节 / yuán xiāo jié).
The most traditional food of the Lantern Festival is called yuán xiāo, also known as tāngyuán, which is a glutinous rice ball usually filled with sweet bean, peanut or sesame paste.
They also come in smaller sizes without filling, mixed with fruit and jiu niang, a sweet fermented rice (check out Judy’s recipe for an example).
You may also see savory tang yuan, which are also served around the Winter Solstice.
When is the Lantern Festival In 2024?
The Lantern festival marks the first full moon of the new lunar year and will be celebrated on February 24, 2024. Eating tang yuan is a must, and if you’re close to your local Chinatown, be sure to visit and watch the final dragon and lion dances of the new year and enjoy the fireworks.
Light your lanterns, and hang them outside on the night of the festival. If you’re not making your own tang yuan, be sure to buy them early from your local Chinese market, or they may sell out!