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Chinese New Year in 30 stunning images

  • Chinese New Year in 30 stunning images

    Also known as the Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year celebrations are a 15-day extravaganza of cultural events and traditions that are celebrated worldwide. While many regard it as a Chinese tradition, the Lunar New Year is celebrated across a variety of Asian cultures, including Korean, Thai, Singaporean, Taiwanese, Malaysian, Indonesian, and Filipino cultures. Additionally, Lunar New Year celebrations can be found in Chinatowns across the world, with notable events in New York City, London, Sydney, and Vancouver. Chinese New Year festivities have become an attraction around the world, drawing tourists that are eager to participate in celebrations.

    For observers of the lunar calendar, the new year marks a point of growth, a chance to reset, and renewed hope for a prosperous future. The tradition of celebrating Chinese New Year is believed to have begun during the Shang Dynasty as a spring carnival that welcomed the season and paid tribute to the gods and ancestors. Since then, the holiday has developed robust traditions that include special foods, vibrant performances, and firework shows. While some customs have become synonymous with the celebration of Chinese New Year, such as red decorations and the famous lantern festival, others focus on the unique traditions of the individual locales and cultures. Though these customs can vary by region, the spirit of hope and good fortune unites all cultures that celebrate the Lunar New Year.

    The year 2020 marks the incoming Year of the Rat, which is regarded as the first of all of the Chinese Zodiac animals, representing the midnight hours and the beginning of a new day. The Year of the Rat also promises a prosperous year of wealth and surplus ahead. In celebration of the upcoming Chinese New Year, Stacker compiled a collection of 30 incredible images from Getty Images showcasing the diverse traditions of Chinese New Year. Click through to see photographs of these traditions in practice.

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  • Traditional red lanterns

    Red is the color of luck in Chinese culture, and these traditional red lanterns are an essential decoration when ushering in the new year. The lanterns feature hand-painted characters wishing health, peace, and prosperity for the upcoming year. Hanging lanterns for Chinese New Year is a 500-year-old tradition, originating during the Han Dynasty. Here, a Chinese worker hangs freshly hand-painted red lanterns up to dry in the village of Tuntou, in Hebei province, China. Tuntou is a village famous for its production of red lanterns.

  • New Year's market stalls

    As the new year approaches, the New Year's markets open annually in the streets with stalls offering red envelopes with custom calligraphy, decorations, flowers, and other traditional wears for New Year's celebrations. These markets are usually open for a few days in advance of New Year's Eve. Here, two women consider decorations for their Lunar New Year celebrations at a market in Yiwu, in China's eastern Zhejiang province.

  • Lunar calendars

    The Chinese culture, as well as other Asian cultures, including Vietnamese culture, observe the lunar calendar. For millennia the passage of time has been closely linked in the Chinese culture to the cyclical pattern of agriculture. For this reason, the lunar calendar is also referred to as the agriculture calendar or the old calendar. This picture shows customers shopping for a variety of lunar calendars in front of a bookstore in downtown Hanoi in Vietnam.

  • Feng shui predictions

    An incoming new year is a time to start anticipating what is ahead. Feng shui consultations are called upon during this time to predict and navigate the new Chinese zodiac year. In large cities like Hong Kong, people from all socioeconomic backgrounds consult Feng shui practitioners to consult about the new year. Here, Feng shui master Thierry Chow uses a luopan, or Chinese compass, at her office in Hong Kong ahead of the new year.


  • Couplets

    At the New Year's markets, calligraphers sell decorative banners and envelopes with couplets wishing luck, prosperity, and good health for the new year. This photo is of a calligrapher outside the Temple of Literature in downtown Hanoi in Vietnam in preparation for the Vietnamese Lunar New Year or Tet.

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  • Red envelopes

    Money-filled red envelopes, known as ang-pows, are a customary gift given out primarily to children and teenagers at familial New Year's Day feasts. They can also be given out to friends and family as a celebratory gift. Above is a photo of Hong Kong Exchange chairman Chow Chung-kong handing out a red envelope after the first day of trading began after the Lunar New Year holiday in Hong Kong in 2014.

  • Spring travel season

    The Lunar New Year is the world's largest annual mass migration, and Chinese residents rush to train stations to secure tickets to see friends and family (seen in the photo of a Beijing railway station above). The 40-day travel rush, also known as Chunyun, begins in mid-January and goes through to mid-February.

  • Preparing traditional foods

    Preparing special New Year's foods is an essential tradition in Chinese culture. Customary foods, like many of the other New Year's traditions, are meant to give blessings for the new year. Here, a London Chinatown restaurant prepares for New Year's Day customers by making customary dumplings. Along with dumplings, spring rolls, noodles, and steamed fish are traditional foods prepared for the large annual feasts.

  • Oranges

    Oranges and tangerines are a symbol of luck and good fortune and make great gifts for loved ones for the new year. The gold color of their skin is symbolic of prosperity in Chinese culture. Above, Singaporeans shop for tangerines and oranges at a street stall ahead of their New Year's celebrations.

  • Sugarcane

    In some countries, it is traditional to burn sugarcane stalks with paper offerings for the dead on the ninth day of celebrations. On this ninth day, families either gather at the temple or their home's alter to burn the stalks of long uncut sugarcane along with paper offerings along with other fruits as a tribute to their ancestors. Pictured above, shoppers buy sugarcane in front of a temple to mark the start of the Lunar New Year in Kandal, Cambodia.

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