With Chinese New Year here this week, we wanted to share with you some notable facts and dos and don’ts about the celebration so you can i...

Get yourself (and your clients) ready for Chinese New Year.

With Chinese New Year here this week, we wanted to share with you some notable facts and dos and don’ts about the celebration so you can impress friends and possibly get a random University Challenge trivia question right one of these days.

We'll also touch on what this means for audiences and marketing.

The Lunar New Year is celebrated by those of Chinese heritage as the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, which follows both the sun and moon patterns to count the days. This means CNY is a different day every year – with this year’s being Feb 19 as the start of the year 4713.

Chinese New Year is the largest annual migration of humans with over 3.62 billion trips made during the 40 day period.

While it is rare that anyone celebrates the full 40 days like in the past, most Chinese observe the first eight days with the big festivities around the Chinese New Year Eve dinner and New Years Day Lunch. The second day is reserved for married women to go back to their hometowns and celebrate the new year with their family. It is still widely believed by older generations in Chinese culture that once a woman is married, she then belongs to the male’s family and thus, her family becomes secondary – however, with the new generation, this is one tradition that is beginning to change mainly due empowerment of women and the One Child Policy enacted in 1980.

Like most horoscopes, the Chinese Horoscope consists of 12 symbols, made up of animals. This is the year of the (羊) Sheep/Ram/Goat – and anyone born in 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968 have this horoscope symbol. They are considered gentle, considerate and hardworking. For a full horoscope, click here.

There are a few greetings to say during the New Year (Written here in traditional Chinese and sounded it out for a Mandarin speaking audience):

新年快樂 Xin Nian Kuai Le (phonetics: sheen nee-an kwai leh) literally means “New Year Happiness”

恭喜發財 Gong Xi Fa Cai (phonetics: guh-ong she fa tz-ai) literally means “Good tidings and prosperity”

  • Wear articles of red clothing throughout the celebrations
  • Eat vegetables as opposed to meat as it’s bad luck to see blood
  • Buy new trousers as in the Chinese language, “fu” - trousers is a homonym for luck
  • Red pocket money is given by married elders to children and unmarried adults. It is also custom for employers to give red pocket money to employees.

  • Do not wear white or black as they are the traditional colours of death
  • Do not wash your hair for 3 days as you will be washing your fortunes away. There is to be no clearing of garbage or sweeping for the same reason
  • Do not borrow or lend money. If you are to give money, it can not be returned.
  • Don’t say or do anything resulting in using the number four as it is a homonym for death.

As you can see, a lot of these are still based on spiritual and traditional beliefs that have been passed down from many generations. How does this impact us in marketing?

Many woman rush to give birth before the new year (depending on the year for fortunes) so scheduled c-sections increase as do insurance claims on the procedure. Many also rush so that they can bring home a child for CNY celebration – a sign of great fortune.

This is the peak time for alcohol consumption in China and East Asian households due the large amount of family and workplace dinners that take place. Grain based alcohols still dominate dinner celebrations (with BaiJiu being the favourite amongst the older generation) and a lot more celebrating with premium whisky and imported wines from France and Italy. Giving alcohol as gifts to dinner hosts is a sign of great generosity and brand / label are held in high regard when giving gifts – the rarer the alcohol, the more face you give to yourself and the host.

So happy Chinese New Year everyone! 

Written by Terence Jou - Account Director at Gravity Thinking.

Sourced from:


Icons sourced from The Noun Project
Artists credits:
Collectif Intro
Shreya Chakravarty
Scott Lewis
Alex Fuller
Gregory Sujkowski
Luis Prado
Edward Boatman
Timur Zima

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