Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year and Spring Festival, is a momentous part of the year for many people, and you may even have seen online slots themed around this auspicious event at your favorite online casino! It begins on the first new moon of the lunar calendar and ends 15 days later on the first full moon of the year. In 2022, the festivities began on February 1, signifying a New Year in China and many other Asian countries, as well as introducing the Year of the Tiger from the Chinese zodiac. In 2023, the Chinese New Year will take place on January 22 and will usher in the Year of the Rabbit.
Part of this period is considered a national holiday, with workers receiving seven days off to celebrate the occasion. During the Chinese New Year, people don’t only take the time to relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Spring Festival, but also to honor their gods and deities and deceased relatives and reconnect with family over good food. Some even take the time to gamble. Yes, even though the practice is banned throughout the majority of China, it is still legal to gamble in Macau, with many taking some time off to celebrate and see what luck has in store for them over the Chinese New Year.
While it may be called the Chinese New Year, the festivities are celebrated around the world by many different countries. Join us as we take a look at some of the nations that celebrate the Chinese New Year.
Chinese New Year around the world
Unlike in Western tradition, which celebrates the arrival of a new calendar year over a single evening, Chinese New Year involves days of preparation and celebration. Ten days before the Lunar New Year begins, those who celebrate this festival begin a vigorous house-cleaning drive to remove any negative energy and bad luck that may be lingering inside, in a custom called “sweeping the grounds.” To create space and welcome new energy and good fortune, windows and doors are kept open during this time, too, and the color red begins to appear everywhere to ward off evil.
How it’s celebrated in China
Chinese New Year is undoubtedly one of the biggest celebrations in China each year. Most families in the country take part in the traditional celebrations, and many also mark the beginning of the festivities with a Lunar New Year tea ceremony. There is a seven-day public holiday over the New Year, but festivities last for up to 15 days, ending with the Lantern Festival.
On Chinese New Year’s Eve and New Year’s day, religious ceremonies honoring ancestors and family celebrations take place, where red envelopes containing money are exchanged, colorful lanterns are lit, and traditional foods are served, such as yuanxiao (sticky rice balls that symbolize family unity), fagao (prosperity cake), yusheng (raw fish, which symbolizes prosperity, with a vegetable salad) and, of course, dumplings and spring rolls (which are said to bring wealth.)
Traditional dragon and lion dances, as well as firework displays, take place throughout the holidays, culminating in the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated on the full moon and marks the last day of the New Year’s celebrations. Many families visit markets and temple fairs during this time to see friends, pick up prayer scrolls and incense, and, of course, get some delicious treats. One thing is certain – a New Year’s festival spent anywhere in China is sure to be an unforgettable experience.
But how does the rest of the world celebrate the Lunar New Year? Let’s take a look.
While Indonesia may not be home to many people of Chinese descent, the country still honors the Chinese New Year, which is known locally as “Imlek.” However, this hasn’t always been the case. Between 1967 and 2000, the celebration was banned in Indonesia after a failed coup that was believed to be by those with sympathies and connections to Communist China. In the year 2000, this ban was revoked, which was followed by the celebration being made an optional holiday in 2001 and later an official national holiday in 2003.
Today, those of Chinese descent celebrate the Chinese New Year much like those in China and other regions, with bright red colors, parades and delicious local cuisine. As expected, the celebrations do differ from region to region, with local communities’ cultures, including their own beliefs and cuisine, adding an Indonesian twist to the event.
While Japan may not get seven days of public holidays in celebration of the New Year, by no means does the event go unmarked! Japan used to celebrate the New Year according to the Lunar calendar until the government moved towards Westernization and adopted the Gregorian calendar during the Meiji era. Even so, Chinese New Year in Japan is an incredible celebration to this day.
The 15-day Chinese Spring Festival takes place each year in Yokohama, which is just a 35-minute drive south of Tokyo. The festival features live music, dancing (including the incredible lion dance,) acrobatic performances, fireworks and parades. Thousands of lanterns are lit on the final day of the festival, making for a breathtaking sight.
There are also festivities in Kobe Chinatown (known as Nankinmachi) with live performances, firecrackers, stalls filled with goods lining the streets, and tai chi demonstrations. Finally, Shinchi Chukagai, the oldest Chinatown in Japan, also holds a massive lantern festival each year in Nagasaki. More than 15,000 incredible Chinese lanterns go on display, with intricate designs and a variety of sizes, some even in the shape of Chinese zodiac animals!
One of the most significant cultural events of the year, Pai Thnee Kong (in Penang) or Thnee Kong Sei (in Hokkien), takes place on the ninth day of the Chinese New Year celebrations in Malaysia. This day centers around making offerings to the Jade Emperor on his birthday – of many things, from fruits and flowers to roasted pigs! Thousands visit the Jade Emperor’s altar or construct altars in their houses in his honor.
The Lunar New Year is known as Seollal in South Korea, and the festival lasts three days. During this time, it’s customary to spend time with family and friends, perform ancestral rites, and, of course, feast! Many people dress in traditional clothing, known as hanbok, and folk stories and traditional games all form part of the celebration. There is a second festival a short while after to celebrate the first full moon of the lunar calendar, where bonfires are made to ignite and bring in good fortune for the year ahead.
Other countries around the world
Around the globe, 1.5 billion people celebrate the Lunar New Year. People of Chinese heritage keep the culture alive and buzzing, bringing amazing festivities not only to Southeast Asian countries like Singapore, Vietnam and Cambodia but also to the US, the UK, South Africa, Australia, and a number of others. Major cities, including New York, London, Johannesburg, Sydney, Paris and even Lima in Peru, host large-scale Chinese New Year Celebrations – bringing traditional ceremonies such as lion dances and lantern festivals to people the world over.
Celebrate Chinese New Year your own way
Being part of the festivities – indulging in incredible food, watching the amazing dances and celebrating with your friends is an incredible experience for people of all cultures! Of course, you could also play slots online to have some fun of your own between January 1 and February 1. There are a number of exciting online gambling slots themed around Chinese New Year and the Year of the Tiger to get you in the mood for celebration. From Jin Ji Bao Xi Endless Treasure Megaways to Lucky Fortune, you’ll find an array of festive- and Asian-themed slot games to choose from at BetMGM.
Play casino games and online slot machines galore at BetMGM
For more incredible entertainment, visit BetMGM and explore the best online casino for betting. You’ll soon discover what great online casino games we have on offer! From casino table games to variety games, from live dealer games to jackpot slots with all your favorite themes, you’ll find a whole world of fun waiting for you when you register with BetMGM and play at our online casino for real money.