Travel Notes


It’s nearly time for us to celebrate Chinese New Year, or as it is also known ‘Spring Festival’.

So here’s a guide to let you know what it’s all about, but most importantly how to join in the festivities!


When is it?

The date changes every year if you are to use the Gregorian calendar, with the date falling somewhere between January 21 to February 20.

That’s because Chinese New Year marks the first day on the Chinese Lunar Calendar, which is within a day of the second new moon before the spring equinox moon phase.

This means that Chinese New Year 2019 falls on Tuesday, February 5, 2019.

Pigs, Dogs, Rabbits, Dragons and more….

2019 will be a year of the Pig.

In Chinese astrology, the Zodiac is based on a twelve-year cycle with each year in that cycle related to an animal sign. These signs are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

It is believed that the years represented by the animals affect the characters of people in the same way as the western astrology signs.

This year marks the transition from a year of the Dog to the Pig. 2020 will be the Year of the Rat.

Check your birthday to see if you are a Pig…

Pig Year Start End
1923 16 Feb 1923 04 Feb 1924
1935 04 Feb 1935 23 Jan 1936
1947 22 Jan 1947 09 Feb 1948
1959 08 Feb 1959 27 Jan 1960
1971 27 Jan 1971 24 Feb 1972
1983 13 Feb 1983 01 Feb 1984
1995 31 Jan 1995 18 Feb 1996
2007 18 Feb 2007 06 Feb 2008
2019 05 Feb 2019 24 Jan 2020

New Year Greetings

The most popular greeting in Mandarin is “Gong Xi Fa Cai” (pronounced “gong-sshee faa-tsai”) which literally translates as: ‘greetings, become rich’. In Cantonese, the meaning is the same but is said “Gong Hei Fat Choy”  (note the T of “fat” is silent)

How to Celebrate?

New Year is all about being with your family and friends. It’s a time when you come together to celebrate together and wish good fortune for the year ahead.

It’s a time to put up decorations and to set off fire crackers.

Decorations and clothing

You will see a lot of red and gold! Both colours are especially good luck. Lanterns will be hung in the streets, houses will be decorated with couplets and imagery of pigs and fireworks will be hung up around the towns and cities.

So dig out any red clothing you have and wear boldly. For example a bright red scarf or a red sweater… about any clothing with pigs on it…Go on…why not?


It’s also a time for eating…over eating…

One thing Chinese people are passionate about more than anything else is food! And as with any culture, Grandma’s cooking is always the best!

Every region has their own specialities and traditions, but some foods that will be on every table at this time of year are fish (as it symbolises prosperity), dumplings (for wealth) and glutinous rice cakes (for higher position).

But other than that, the main aim is to get everyone together around the table, eat and be merry. So why not get as many friends and family together as you can and head to your local Chinese restaurant and fill your boots!! Its good luck to toast each other too with China’s favourite alcohol “Baijiu” or Rice Wine. Be warned however, at over 50% proof it is to be taken in moderation!

Firecrackers and Fireworks

It is a centuries long tradition in China to set off fireworks and fire crackers with the aim of created the loudest and brightest flashing and banging possible and the start of the New Year. This is still the case but over the last decade many regions have banned this practice in residential areas due to both safety and environmental reasons. It is becoming more common for large scale public fireworks displays to replace this. So if you find yourself in China on New Year’s Eve ask around for the nearest display.

Red Envelopes

As opposed to gifts, it is customary to give red envelopes or red packets to Children and Retirees. These red envelopes will contain money and are considered very lucky. (Obviously the thicker and heavier the envelope is the luckier it is!) So if you want to celebrate at home, get yourself some red envelopes and break open the piggy bank!

So central is this tradition to the New Year festivities, the social media app “WeChat” (the must have app in China) has a red packet function where by you can send your friends and family red pockets via phone payments. You can send a red packet into a group chat and the app will automatically convert it into a lucky draw. The fastest to click on the red pocket will win the prize! This leads to lots of fun. The sums are small, usually only a couple of pence a time so that everyone can join in the fun.

What Not to do!

There are some things at New Year that are considered unlucky and should be avoided wherever possible! These are…

Having an accident. Not what anyone wants at any time of the year, but try and take that extra bit of care at this time of year!

Giving gifts with unlucky meanings, colours, words, or numbers, or even saying something inauspicious. Have a look online to find out what these involve, but our suggestion is to stick with the lucky red envelopes!

Sweeping up on New Year’s Day: Whatever you do, don’t do this as it is believed you will be “sweeping all your luck away”.

Looking to Celebrate Chinese New Year?

Head to one of these destinations which are renowned for celebrating the Chinese New Year in style…


Shanghai is one of the greatest places to experience the Chinese New Year. The city has a full calendar of celebrations, starting with a ceremony at Longhua Temple on Chinese New Year’s Eve, Hear them strike the large bronze bell 108 times to prevent bad karma and ring in the new year with good luck. Other must sees include Yuyuan Gardens Lantern Festival and amazing fireworks displays.

San Francisco

Boasting one of the oldest Chinese New Year celebrations outside Asia, its parade of over 5,000 performers draws in over a million onlookers annually.


Paris celebrates the Chinese New Year in style with the Champs Elysées lined with giant floats, firecrackers, martial arts performers and dancing dragons, while the Eiffel Tower glows red.

And for some celebrating closer to home…


London England takes pride in boasting that it holds the world’s largest celebration of the Chinese New Year outside of Asia.

The festivities kick off with a stunning parade in Chinatown, followed by stage performances from Chinese dance groups in Trafalgar and Leicester square.


Manchester has a weekend full of fun and celebrations planned from Thursday 7 – Sunday 10 February 2019. Highlights include the legendary Dragon Parade, live performances from dancers and a giant straw art installation of a piglet in St Ann’s Square.

Gong Xi Fa Cai!!

From all of us at Antler we wish you a very prosperous Year of the Pig!

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