Do You Know the Traditions of Chinese New Year?

WORLD

Teresa McGlothlin

6 Min Quiz

Is the Chinese New Year based on the Gregorian, lunar or solar calendar?

Sometimes, Chinese New Year is called the Lunar New Year because the new lunar year begins on the first day of the festival. Every year, the celebrations end after 15 days — the moon is always full then.

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What's the date that marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year?

The new year's celebrations do not start on any set day, but it's usually in mid to late January. The festivities begin when the moon reaches its last phase of the lunar year. In 2020, it will begin on January 25th.

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Which one of these colors is said to bring prosperity and is always used for Chinese New Year decorations?

No matter where you look when you attend a Chinese New Year event, you'll see the color red. From red envelopes to red banners and dragons, the color is used because it symbolizes fire, passion, joy and good fortune.

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Commonly served at the Lunar New Year feast, one of these popular stuffed foods is said to represent wealth. Which one is it?

Jiaozi, or dumplings, are traditionally eaten at midnight on the first night of the new year. Not only do they resemble the first Chinese currency, but they are also said to bring good luck. In fact, it's believed that the more you eat, the better luck you'll have throughout the year.

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What day of the new year hosts the Festival of Lanterns — or Yuan Xiao Jie?

When the moon reaches full, the events of the Chinese New Year come to a close. Friends and family gather for the Lantern Festival on the 15th day. Paper lanterns are illuminated and often decorated with riddles or good wishes for all passersby to see.

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How many days does the Spring Festival usually last?

In China, it's not uncommon to hear the Chinese New Year referred to as the Spring Festival. During the celebration, the country allows its children to have up of a month of school break even though it only lasts for 15 days.

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What's the common way to wish someone a successful new year in Mandarin?

During the new year, it's customary to wish everyone you meet a successful new year. In Chinese, the phrase is "Gong xi fa cai!" Nearly one in four people across the world will celebrate the holiday.

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Which one of these utensils cannot be used on the first day of Chinese New Year celebrations?

The first few days of the Chinese New Year come with a strict set of traditions that include not cutting things — even your hair! If you use scissors or a knife, you are said to be cutting out your luck.

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Do you have any idea what eating long noodles symbolizes during Chinese New Year?

As with so many traditions of the Chinese New Year, different foods are used to symbolize different things. Long noodles are made and served because it is believed that they will bring long life to the person eating them.

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Out of these activities, which one takes place on the second day of the new year?

After spending the late-night hours feasting, it's customary to visit friends and family on the second day. However, showering for a few days is discouraged. You wouldn't want to wash your luck away!

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They are given with good fortune, but who traditionally gets to receive a red packet during Chinese New Year?

For young people, red packets are the best part of all the year's traditions. It wouldn't be the Chinese New Year without receiving a red envelope. In Cantonese, the small treasures are called "lai see."

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Can you figure out which of these things is the same thing as a hong bao?

If you are young and unmarried, there's a good chance you'll receive a hong bao with cash or other trinkets. Older or married folks prepare the envelopes to symbolize their hopes of good fortune throughout the year.

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Should you give your loved ones an even number of gifts or an odd number of gifts?

No matter what you do, make sure to give Chinese New Year gifts in even numbers. Even numbers are considered lucky, and the number eight is the luckiest of them all. Two oranges are sufficient and popular, though.

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You should never give watches as a Lunar New Year gift because they represent what?

Gifts like tea, fresh food or gold coins are perfectly fine to include in any Chinese New Year gift basket. Watches should never be added! The Chinese believe that watches symbolize that someone's time is running out.

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Which one of these color combos should you avoid wearing during the Spring Festival?

In addition to foods and numbers, colors also have a lot of importance to the symbolism of the Chinese New Year. Whatever you do, avoid wearing black and white to any event you attend. White is associated with mourning, and black is simply not festive enough. It's considered disrespectful.

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Is it true or false that you should not wash or cut your hair during the first few days of the new year?

It's true! If you want to look your best during the Chinese New Year, you'll have to get your haircut and wash it really well before it begins. Washing and cutting your hair are considered ways to rid yourself of good luck. You wouldn't want to do that!

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What is the midnight dinner that takes place New Year's Eve?

The night before the Chinese New Year begins is called New Year's Eve, and it's the night that the reunion dinner is held. Families gather to feast on traditionally symbolic foods while they ring the year in.

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It's customary to avoid going outside on which day of the new year?

In Chinese mythology, Chigou is the God of Blazing Wrath. The third day of the new year is named Chigou's Day, and it's customary to avoid reaping any wrath that day. It's a bad omen to host dinners or speak with family members on the day.

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Because of pollution, one Chinese New Year custom is becoming less popular. Which one is it?

With pollution levels at an all-time high in China, celebrations now include a central fireworks display. Rather than having a nation of 1.3 setting off individual firecrackers, these events minimize smoke and toxins going into the air. The largest display takes place in Hong Kong.

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Can you do the math and figure out which Chinese zodiac animal will represent the year 2021?

Just like the astrological zodiac, there are 12 different signs, or animals, associated with the Chinese version. A different animal represents each year, and 2021 will be the year of the ox. 2022 will be the year of the tiger.

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Why is it important to wear new clothes during the Lunar New Year's reunion dinner?

Nearly every action has a symbolic meaning during the Chinese New Year. It's believed that wearing all new clothes, from the hat to the shoes, represents a fresh start for the new year.

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A dragon often dances through the streets during festival celebrations. What does it represent?

Just like dumplings, oranges, and number eight, the dragon is another symbol of luck. When the dragon dance takes place, it is an act that brings passion, fire and good fortune to all who witness it. Dancing with the dragon costume takes a team of coordinated people.

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What's the name of the Kitchen God that households traditionally try to appease during the new year?

It's important to appease the gods during the Lunar New Year — especially Tsao Chun! The Kitchen God or Stove God returns to the heavens every year to report on a family's progress. A new picture is placed during celebrations in the hopes that he'll give a good account.

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Which one of these plants — sometimes used to decorate homes during the Lunar New Year — are said to bring peace?

Decorating with fresh flowers and fruits is a tradition that brings life into celebrations. While no plant is turned away, peonies are a popular choice. They are a symbol of peace in Chinese culture.

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You'll be lucky all year if you find what inside one of your dumplings?

Traditional dumplings are shaped like ingots — the first form of Chinese money. It's not practiced as much these days, but finding a coin hidden in your dumpling meant that you would be fortunate all year.

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Which one of these fruits is given to bring abundance and happiness?

Although it's also common to celebrate Chinese New Year with plums, kumquats, grapes and jujubes, oranges and tangerines are favorites. Representing the harvest, they are given to wish the recipient a fruitful and plentiful year.

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In China, over 200 million people travel to attend the reunion dinner. What name is given to their travels?

Chunyun, or Spring Migration, is similar to what happens when Americans travel for Thanksgiving. Although Chinese New Year is celebrated, the mass travel occurs to be with family while you're ringing in the next season of the lunar new year.

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What name is given to red banners you see decorating the streets during Chinese New Year?

Hui chun and spring couplets are both names used for the red banners seen everywhere during the celebration. Adorned with golden symbols that wish others luck, joy and hope, they are one of the most popular of all the new year traditions.

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When the Lantern Festival is held, what moon phase would you look up and see?

On the 15th day of the year, the Lantern Festival is celebrated under the light of the full moon. The festival's start depends on the end of the last lunar cycle and ends during this first phase.

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Those celebrating the new year often greet each other with which luck-bringing phrase?

Each of these Chinese phrases has a meaning of goodwill, but only "xin nian kuai le" wishes someone a year full of luck. It's a tradition to say it to everyone you meet — except for day three when you're supposed to avoid people.

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When a family stays up late to welcome the new year together after dinner, what's the practice called?

Once the clock strikes midnight and the reunion dinner's dishes have been put away, the family gathers for shou sui. Shou sui is the time spent playing games and reminiscing during the first hours of the new year.

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Can you correctly guess how many people across the world will celebrate Chinese New Year?

China isn't the only country that celebrates the Lunar New Year! In addition to festivals held in the world's largest cities, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines also practice the tradition. Just to name a few ...

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Which one of these Chinese zodiac elements is not one of the astrological zodiacs elements?

Before getting dressed for any Chinese New Year party, make sure the check the year's element. It would be considered taboo to wear a color that is the opposite of it. The five elements in the Chinese Zodiac are earth, air, water, fire and metal. The astrological elements do not include metal.

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At the end of reunion dinner, a yu will be served. What is a yu?

The yu might be a fish, but its name sounds like the Chinese words for both surplus and wish. For this reason, it's customary to serve a yu — the whole fish — at the end of every reunion dinner.

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Are the Chinese New Year and the Lantern Festival the same thing?

The Festival of Lanterns is part of the Chinese New Year, but it's not the same thing. The beginning of the Chinese New Year takes place over two weeks before the Festival of Lanterns begins.

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Image: Unsplash by lali_ph

About This Quiz

The days leading up to the start of the Chinese New Year are hectic for those who follow its traditions. There are meals to prepare, gifts to buy and new clothes to find! Once the Reunion Dinner starts, the celebration begins. Don't expect to wash your hair for a few days, though! 

Celebrated by over 2 billion people all over the world, Chinese New Year features customs that are chock full of symbolism and goodwill. From red envelopes to peace-bringing plants, there are tons of facts about the traditions that can show off how much you know about it. When you read the questions you're presented, do your best to tap into the easy answers to solve the more complex problems. Will you know as much about the holiday as you think you do? 

Attending a Lantern Festival back when you were small might not be enough to get you through this quiz, or you could ace it! Either way, when you finish, you'll know enough to honor the customs in a traditional way. Don't be afraid of odd numbers as you make your way to shou shi, and your results will be the yu at the end. We wish you nothing but peace and prosperity for the new year — and for this quiz. Xin nian kuai le!

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