CHINESE

NEW YEAR

农历新年

(Nóng Lì Xīn Nián)

Have You Ever Heard of Chinese New Year?

As the name implies, the Chinese word for Chinese New Year refers to the Chinese New Year Festival or known as Spring Festival. It is not the festival that people celebrate on the first day of January although it also contains the keyword “New Year” in its English name.

In fact, Chinese New Year festival is referring to the first day of the firsth month based on Chinese calendar (Chinese Lunisolar Calendar). The days of Chinese New Year Festival usually fluctuate between the second half of January and the first half of February in the solar calendar.

Chinese New Year v.s. Spring Festival

You may probably hear of the name “Spring Festival” also, the word literally transformed from the Chinese word “春节 (chūn jié)“. Spring Festival is another name equal to “Chinese New Year”, both are more accurate than other sayings due to the distinguishing feature of the Chinese calendar. In the spoken Chinese, “春节 (chūn jié)” is more frequently used accounting for the conciseness of only two characters included. But turned into the spoken English, the phrase “Chinese New Year” is the better and accurate suggestion. 😛

KNOWLEDGE OF CHINESE NEW YEAR

In China, Chinese New Year is generally spoken as “农历新年 (zhōng guó nóng lì xīn nián)“. However, some translated this Chinese phrase into “Chinese Lunar New Year” which is not a correct translation and can not be equal with the definition of Chinese New Year. It is because the Chinese New Year Festival/Spring Festival is not designated on the lunar calendar only but based on the Chinese lunisolar calendar, the unique Chinese calendar mixing with solar and lunar calendar together. For this reason, Chinese New Year is not only a lunar festival but also a important Chinese festival relating to the solar calendar. Generally speaking, people often use two common Chinese phrases “春节 (chūn jié)” or “新年 (xīn nián)” to describe the festival, correspondingly known as the “Spring Festival” or the “Chinese New Year” in English.

What’s more, Chinese New Year can be shortened as only one character “年 (nián)” in many Chinese phrases. For example, if you heard someone talking about a Chinese phrase “过年 (guò nián)“, they must be talking about the Chinese New Year Festival they celebrated, not the first day of January. The character “过 (guò)” here works as a verb and means “to celebrate”. There are more other similar examples, such as “拜年 (bài nián)” which refers to extend Chinese New Year greetings to others by making a visit or a phone call, and “年货 (nián huò)” indicating the food and other goods purchased for Chinese New Year celebrations.

Besides the usages above, as a common Chinese character, “年 (nián)” also has many other different meanings, such as the meaning of a (solar) year in the word “一年 (yì nián, one year)“, or indicating annual in the word “年薪 (nián xīn, annual salary)“, or the meaning of age in the word “年龄 (nián nín, age)“, or mentioning to a period of time in the words like “童年 (tóng nián, childhood)” or “青年 (qīnq nián, youth)“, etc.

农历新年
(nóng lì xīn nián)

"Chinese New Year"

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Simplified Chinese

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