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Chinese New Year in United States

Many people in countries such as the United States celebrate Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year. It marks the first day of the New Year in the Chinese calendar.

Studio shot of red envelope with money and chinese lunar new year decoration
Chinese New Year decorations, including red envelopes for money.
Chinese New Year decorations, including red envelopes for money.
©iStockphoto.com/Liang Zhang

What do people do?

Many individuals and communities, particularly Chinese communities, in the United States take part in the Chinese New Year celebrations, which can last for days. Chinese New Year celebrations in the United States have, over the years, included activities and events such as:

  • Chinese New Year parades featuring colorful costumes, floats, firecrackers and other attractions.
  • Various dances, including lion and dragon dances.
  • Chinatown fun runs or walks.
  • Balls and pageants.
  • Street fairs.
  • Firework displays.

Some organizations may hold special contests or make announcements to coincide with Chinese New Year. For example, some newspapers or magazines may announce the top 10 Chinese restaurants in a city or town on Chinese New Year. It is customary for many Chinese-American families to spend time together and exchange gifts, including money wrapped in red and gold packages that are usually given to children.

Public life

Chinese New Year is not a federal public holiday in the United States. It is a legal observance in California as of 2015. However, some Chinese businesses may be closed on the day or amend their business hours to take part in the Chinese New Year festivities. There may be heavy traffic and some streets may be closed in towns or cities where Chinese New Year celebrations are held.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau (Census 2000: Chinese Largest Asian Group in the United States; March 4, 2002), the Chinese comprised more than 20 percent of the 11.9 million people who identified themselves as Asians in the United States’ Census 2000. That translates into 2.7 million reporting as Chinese – the largest Asian group in the United States.

Chinese historical organizations in the United States can trace the arrival of the Chinese in North, Central and South America as far back as the 1600s. Many Chinese immigrants settled in the United States during the 19th century. With immigration, came Chinese traditions and events such as Chinese New Year, which is now largely celebrated in many communities across the United States.


Chinese New Year has various symbols and traditions. For example, flowers are an important part of New Year decorations. Writings that refer to good luck are often seen in homes and business environments. They are usually written by brush on a diamond-shaped piece of red paper. Tangerines and oranges are also displayed in many homes and stores as a sign of luck and wealth.

Envelopes with money (Hong Bao, Ang Pao, or Lai See) often come in the color red, which symbolizes happiness, good luck, success and good fortune. These envelopes are mainly given as presents to children. Each Chinese New Year is associated with an animal name for one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac.

About Chinese New Year in other countries

Read more about Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday typeWhere it is observed
SatJan 271990Chinese New YearObservance 
FriFeb 151991Chinese New YearObservance 
TueFeb 41992Chinese New YearObservance 
SatJan 231993Chinese New YearObservance 
ThuFeb 101994Chinese New YearObservance 
TueJan 311995Chinese New YearObservance 
MonFeb 191996Chinese New YearObservance 
FriFeb 71997Chinese New YearObservance 
WedJan 281998Chinese New YearObservance 
TueFeb 161999Chinese New YearObservance 
SatFeb 52000Chinese New YearObservance 
WedJan 242001Chinese New YearObservance 
TueFeb 122002Chinese New YearObservance 
SatFeb 12003Chinese New YearObservance 
ThuJan 222004Chinese New YearObservance 
WedFeb 92005Chinese New YearObservance 
SunJan 292006Chinese New YearObservance 
SunFeb 182007Chinese New YearObservance 
ThuFeb 72008Chinese New YearObservance 
MonJan 262009Chinese New YearObservance 
SunFeb 142010Chinese New YearObservance 
ThuFeb 32011Chinese New YearObservance 
MonJan 232012Chinese New YearObservance 
SunFeb 102013Chinese New YearObservance 
FriJan 312014Chinese New YearObservance 
ThuFeb 192015Chinese New YearObservance 
MonFeb 82016Chinese New YearObservance 
SatJan 282017Chinese New YearObservance 
FriFeb 162018Chinese New YearObservance 
TueFeb 52019Chinese New YearObservance 
SatJan 252020Chinese New YearObservance 

Quick Facts

Chinese New Year marks the first day of the New Year in the Chinese calendar.

Chinese New Year 2015

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Chinese New Year 2016

Monday, February 8, 2016


Name in other languages

Chinese New YearEnglish
Año Nuevo ChinoSpanish
ראש השנה הסיניHebrew
سنة صينية جديدةArabic
중국의 설Korean
Chinesisches NeujahrGerman

Alternative name

Spring Festival
List of dates for other years

Other holidays in February 2015 in United States

Other calendars

Related links