The Ultimate Expat Guide for CNY

What Is Chinese New Year About?

Chinese New Year (CNY) marks the beginning of the lunar calendar and Spring. As you might already know, each year is associated with a zodiac sign. In 2019, we enter the year of the pig which is synonymous with luck, good fortune, wealth, or more generally prosperity.

The celebrations are divided into 3 parts, the dates varying from one year to another since they follow the Lunar Calendar:

  • The so-called « Little Year » (Jan. 28 – Feb. 4th, 2019) when is held for the preparations for the actual New Year.
  • The « Spring Festival » (Feb. 5th – Feb. 15th, 2019) which begins the celebration of the New Year.
  • The « Lantern Festival » (Feb. 16th – Feb. 19th 2019) which official date is Feb. 19th.

CNY is one of the two main Chinese National Holidays and is the occasion for families to gather and celebrate together. As workers are returning home, the country practically shuts down for a period of 2 weeks up to 1 month. Factories and administrations close as the population is pouring into train stations and airports to travel across the country, and – more and more – to go abroad.

It is then not the best period to travel around China and we advise you to go abroad if you have the opportunity to do so. However, there are a few places in China where you can avoid the crowd. It is a good period for instance to visit Beijing or Shanghai as most of the population has headed back to the countryside, even though one can feel quite disoriented with seeing the busiest cities that are empty.


We would advise you to refer to the China Highlights' handful guide for CNY 2019. It will help you navigate through the most important and busiest time of the year more easily, especially if you are not familiar with the country, its traditions, and thus its flows of population:

Traditions You Should Follow

People usually visit family members and relatives with their hands full of presents. Food and sweets are very popular gifts, such as fruits, cakes, biscuits, chocolates or candies. If you ever are invited to a CNY dinner and thus are thinking of offering gifts, the number is important as even ones symbolize happy occasions and odd ones unhappy occasions.

Elders and married couples also offer hongbaos to younger relatives and family members. You might already be familiar with the red envelopes one gives with two hands in real life, and more and more digitally.

It is interesting to note that digital hongbaos are becoming more popular but also a communication tool for high-end brands. Tencent QQ for instance, offered the occasions to luxury companies to design branded red packets for users to send to their friends on the App. As such, a limited number of users had the occasion to send Ferrari, YSL Beauté, or even Burberry hongbaos.

Keep in mind that 8 is the luckiest number in China while 4 is synonymous with bad luck if you have in mind to give a hongbao to someone.

Red is the color: from red items of clothing to red lanterns, including red couplets with the character 福 (happiness) held on the doors, as it symbolizes prosperity.

As your trusted relocation partner, ASI Movers at helping you navigating through CNY peacefully. We are here at every step of your international journey to help live a happier and simpler life!

Relocating Soon? Request A Free Quote!