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When Is The Chinese New Year? Traditions and Superstitions

Happy New Year! This is the Year of the Ox. Learn about the celebrations, traditions, and superstitions of this solunar calendar.

Happy New Year! No, we don’t have our dates mixed up. It’s not the new year we’re used to, but the Chinese New Year, which can fall any time between January 21 to February 21— on the second new Moon after the winter solstice. In 2021, it falls on Friday, February 12th, 2021.

Ox lying in a pen (includes Year of the Ox logo).

The year 2021 will be the Year of the Ox, and according to the Chinese Calendar, it’s actually the year 4719.

What Is The Chinese New Year?

The Chinese New Year is a fifteen-day celebration marked by visits to relatives, the wearing of new clothes, and the giving of gifts. Chinese poetry is pasted around doorways and a huge feast consisting of eight dishes (8 being a lucky number to the Chinese) is served. The New Year celebration ends on the Full Moon on the fifteenth day with a Lantern Festival, which includes lantern displays and the famous dragon dance.

Why is This Year the Year of the Ox?

Each of the 12 years is represented by a different animal in the Chinese Zodiac: rat, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, pig. According to Chinese legend, Buddha asked all animals to meet him on New Year’s Day and named a year after the 12 who visited him.

Traits of Ox

If you happen to be born during the Year of the Ox, you are known for being persistent, orderly, and cheerful. You also have the “gift of gab” in that you’re a good speaker, but you’re somewhat stubborn and easily angered.

Does This Mean 2021 Will Be a Lucky Year for An Ox?

Actually, no. Though it would seem that an ox year would be an auspicious time for an ox, Chinese astrologers say these tend to be unlucky years, and you should be cautious during years that match your zodiac sign. Not necessarily a portent of bad luck, just that you should be more careful about finances, careers, and relationships. In China, many will even go so far as to wear red each day of the year to help ward off bad luck!

Whatever your sign, the year 4719 is a great time to learn from the hardworking example that the Ox sets for us.

The Chinese Zodiac and Their Traits

A graphical list of all animals in the Chinese Zodiac.

The Chinese zodiac is divided into twelve yearly cycles with each year identified by a particular animal.  Certain characteristics are inherent in each year.


  • Years: 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020…
  • Traits: Known for originality and initiative; intelligent, energetic, trustworthy, hardworking, loyal, perfectionist, easily angered but forgiving. Loves to gamble.


  • Years: 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021
  • Traits: Patient, persistent, leader, orderly, cheerful, good speaker, somewhat, stubborn, easily angered, alert mentally. Cautious in dealing with people.


  • Years: 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022…
  • Traits: Courageous, aggressive, candid, compassionate, likes flattery, virtuous, very friendly, deep thinker, very logical, gentle, kind.


  • Years: 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023…
  • Traits: Talented and articulate, thrifty, very affectionate, diplomatic, tactful, peace lover, good financial mind, seldom ill-tempered. Very sentimental.


  • Years: 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024…
  • Traits: Good sense of humor, very sincere, soft hearted, has strong opinions, honest, brave, passionate, inspires trust, healthy, willing to help others, eager to learn.


  • Years: 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025…
  • Traits: Very wise, beautiful mind and body. Fickle, affectionate, seldom discouraged. Strong willed, good organizer, intelligent and knowledgeable.


  • Years: 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026…
  • Traits: Extremely independent, artistic, loves music, drama, and literature, strong-willed, energetic, strives for perfection, optimistic and loving.


  • Years: 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027…
  • Traits: Elegant in dress, creative, shy, easily led, religious, exercises good taste, easy to please, sometimes pessimistic, loves art, good thinker, friendly.


  • Years: 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028…
  • Traits: Very clever, charming, loves to read. Enthusiastic, skillful. Has good common sense, loves adventure and travel. Talkative, agile and has a good memory.


  • Years: 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029…
  • Traits: Honest, good worker, self-confident, ambitious, deep thinker, realistic. Excellent foresight, not easily discouraged. Outspoken and frank.


  • Years: 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030…
  • Traits: Loyal, dependable, honest, good executive, sense of humor. Very generous, always helping others. Outgoing, good leaders, artistic, gentle and kind.


  • Years: 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031…
  • Traits: Chivalrous and gallant, honest, great thirst for knowledge, dislikes arguments, kind, well-liked, calm. A slow but careful nature, easy-going manner.

(From the 1980 Farmers’ Almanac)

9 Chinese New Year Superstitions

Don’t cut your hair! According to Chinese superstition, haircuts should be scheduled before the Chinese New Year begins.
  1. Housecleaning should be done before the Chinese New Year’s Day to sweep away bad luck from the previous year. No sweeping or dusting is allowed on New Year’s Day so that good fortune will not be swept away.
  2. All doors and windows must be open at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve to allow the old year to escape. It also allows the good luck of the New Year to enter.
  3. Setting off firecrackers on New Year’s Eve scares away evil spirits while sending out the old year and welcoming the new one.
  4. Precedents are set on New Year’s Day. Therefore, nothing should be loaned on this day, or else the lender will be loaning all year. Mischievous children are never spanked on this day to avoid tears destined to last the whole year through.
  5. Do not use references to death or the past, use foul language and unlucky words, or the telling of ghost stories, which are taboo on this day.
  6. Children are given red packets or envelopes containing even numbered amounts of money since odd-numbered amounts of money are traditionally given during funerals. (Odd and even numbers are determined by the first digit. For instance, “30” is an odd number.) The only exception to the rule is that $4 is never given, as the number four is bad luck — the Chinese word for “four” is a homophone for the word “death.” Eight dollars is commonly given, as the number 8 is considered good luck.
  7. Hair washing is forbidden. Leave your hair as it is on the first day of the New Year. The Chinese character for hair is the same first character in the word for prosper. This means washing or cutting it off is seen as washing your fortune away and dramatically reduces your chances for prosperity and good fortune in the year.
  8. Knives and scissors may not be used because they may cut off fortune.
  9. Celebrants wear red to scare away evil spirits and bad fortune and ensure a bright future. Black and white should not be worn as black symbolizes bad luck, and white is a Chinese funeral color. People dress in all new clothes and shoes to symbolize a new beginning for the New Year.

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