The official 7 day Chinese New Year holiday welcoming the Year of the Pig has now come to an end, but it’s not yet business as usual, the traditional celebration will continue for another 5 days, ending when the full moon arrives. This is celebrated with the Chinese Lantern Festival on 19th February 2019.
The Lantern Festival is also the first full moon night in the Chinese calendar, marking the return of spring and symbolizing the reunion of family.
During this period China is dominated by red lanterns, fireworks, parades and banquets. Traditions include giving red envelopes which contain luck money as gifts from senior members of the family to children. This tradition is evolving in the digital age with electronic red envelopes used in group chat to start a grabbing game. The flying of drones has also crept into Lantern Festival activities.
The 40 days around the Spring Festival is peak travel period in China – over 3 billion journeys take place with families visiting relatives. Business virtually comes to a halt and shortened hours apply in most companies.
- This festival is observed by 1/4 of the world’s population.
The world’s population will be 7.7 billion for Spring Festival 2019, and over 2 billion celebrate it in some way, even if it’s just a national acknowledgement. This means worldwide over 2019 million people will acknowledge the festival in 2019.
- The festival causes the world’s largest annual migration.
For Chinese people, the most important part of the Chinese Spring Festival is to enjoy a reunion dinner with their families on New Year’s Eve, even if they have to travel long distances. 200 million Mainland Chinese travel long distances for these holidays, and it is estimated that there are 3.5 billion journeys in China. Tens of millions of people travel in other countries too. It makes the largest annual human migration in the world, known as the Spring Festival Travel Rush. In comparison, less than 100 million people travel more than 50 miles during the Christmas holidays in the US according to the American Automobile Association.
- Chinese New Year is the world’s biggest annual fireworks display.
No single hour in any other country sees as many tons of fireworks as in China around midnight beginning Chinese New Year. China produces about 90% of the world’s fireworks.
If you are lucky enough to be in China this spring, Lantern Festival take place from the end of January until the end of March. Qinhuai International Lantern Festival is the biggest in China, from January 29 to March 31, 2019, at Confucius Temple, Qinhuai Scenic Zone, Nanjing.
After the Lantern Festival, Chinese New Year taboos are no longer in effect, and all New Year decorations are taken down. Business and shipping will return to normal.