新年快乐 (Xīn nián kuài lè!)
As a forward-thinking employer, we’re constantly striving to find new ways to celebrate the diversity, the cultures and the different walks of life that make Churchill truly something to be proud of. That’s especially true given the People First approach we hold at the core of all we do – we’re firm believers in giving all of our colleagues the opportunity to be passionate about what’s important to them.
With that in mind, and with early Lunar New Year celebrations illuminating this past weekend, we wanted to discover more about what it means to those who celebrate, where the customs originated, and how they’ve quickly become an integral part of both popular culture and more storied practices.
Of course, we’re also celebrating the Year of the Dragon itself, and the prosperity, good fortune and positivity it represents. For all of our staff members who celebrate, and those who are new to the traditions, we wish you a hugely exciting adventure under the new moon.
First though, let’s explore more about the Lunar New Year and what it means as a celebration of culture, with expert guidance from our esteemed People Advisor Chloe Tsang.
Celebrated across a range of Asian countries (most famously China, South Korea and Hong Kong), the Lunar New Year – also commonly called Chinese New Year – is a celebration of the moon at specific times of the year.
While there’s several occasions across the year, it’s most commonly associated with the Spring Festival, which began with a bang on the 10th February 2024. Lasting an impressive 15 days, and set to culminate in the magnificent Lantern Festival on the 24th February 2024, it’s one of the most integral events in the Chinese calendar.
The festival itself has widespread roots, ranging from creatures of myth and legend in the Nian (a beast found beneath the seas or in the mountains), to traditions that go all the way back to the 3rd Century BC, grounded in the agriculture and industry of ancient China.
It’s often seen as a way to see out the old year, and welcome in a new era of prosperousness and wellbeing, as well as an opportunity to celebrate the changing of seasons and the phase of the moon with family and friends.
As you’d expect from a cultural celebration that’s so firmly grounded in one of the most historic continents, there are a significant number of different traditions and customs that are tied to the celebration. These include:
At the opposite end of the spectrum, it’s considered ideal to cut your hair before Chinese New Year as this is symbolic of a new start and beginning, as well as a good way to move more physically towards better fortunes.
There’s two major, mainstream traditions that surround Lunar New Year, and that have quickly become synonymous with Spring Festival – red décor, and great feasts. Food is a huge leveller during Chinese New Year, and it’s often a huge smorgasbord of different foods. These span the traditional to the more modern, and include:
It’s also traditionally a time to spend with family and friends, with the festival offering the opportunity to sit, feast and talk with those you’re close to. That also lends itself to honouring the dead, and memorialising those who’ve passed away or fallen ill over the last year, as well as ancestors and those from early in your family’s lineage.
There’s also traditional dancing, with the chief among these being the Chinese dragon dance. Traditionally done for good luck and prosperity, people of all ages are encouraged to touch the dragon for good luck.
On a wider scale, you’ll often see celebrations across cities and towns with larger communities of East Asian people and cultures. There’s numerous across the UK and Europe, but they’re naturally bigger and more popular in Asian countries, and in larger Asian communities in major nations like the US and Canada.
For Chloe, Lunar New Year is very much a time to spend with family and friends, and to celebrate the changing of seasons, the moon and the Chinese calendar. Speaking to her, she said:
“I have always celebrated every year with family, even as I’ve gotten older. It’s just like Christmas to me as it’s about family time and seeing those I care about. I particularly just love the food we have, and it feels extra special as my Mum makes food every year for it.”