Chinese New Year Around the World

Posted on 04. Feb, 2016 by in Culture, festivals

The Chinese New Year falls on February 8th this year, and the largest annual human migration on Earth is underway in preparation for it. Train stations, airports, and roads all across China are packed with people trying to get home to ring in the Year of the Monkey with their loved ones. The 15-day Spring Festival is far and away the most important holiday in Chinese culture, and it involves many traditions and superstitions. All across the country, people will be tuned in to the CCTV New Year’s Gala, kids will be opening their red envelopes and counting their lucky money, and fireworks will fill the sky night after night. While this holiday is obviously huge in China, how is it celebrated in the rest of the world? Let’s take a look at how countries around the globe ring in the Chinese New Year:

North America

CNY in Chicago.

CNY in Chicago.

Not surprisingly, the biggest places to celebrate Spring Festival in North America are those with the largest Chinese populations. Cities such as New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Toronto, and Vancouver all have large celebrations for the holiday. As a matter of fact, NYC declared the lunar New Year a school holiday last year, reflecting the growing population of Asian students in the city’s schools.

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See what Chinese New Year celebrations look like in NYC’s Chinatown.

While New York certainly throws down for CNY, nobody in North America goes quite as big as San Francisco. The city’s Chinese New Year Festival and Parade is the largest Asian cultural event on the continent, and is also one of the oldest and largest outside of Asia.

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Highlights from last year’s San Francisco parade.


A dragon in London. Image by Paul from

A dragon in London.
Image by Paul from

London certainly gives San Francisco a run for its money when it comes to CNY celebrations. The English capital also claims to have the largest event outside of Asia, as it plays host to a huge parade starting in Trafalgar Square and ending in the city’s Chinatown.

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CNY in London last year.

London isn’t the only European city that celebrates Spring Festival, though – Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Rome also host events, for starters. Wherever you are in Europe, chances are you’re not too far away from a Chinese New Year parade.


Sydney celebrates CNY. Photo by Newtown grafitti from

Sydney celebrates CNY.
Photo by Newtown grafitti from

With one of the largest Chinese populations outside of Asia, it should come as no surprise that Sydney hosts some pretty epic Spring Festival celebrations. Festivities span a few weeks and include outdoor markets, dragon boat races, and opera performances. The stunning Twilight Parade caps it all off, which features thousands of performers and attracts over 100,00 people.

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See a bit of the awesome Twilight Parade in Sydney.

Southeast Asia

Chingay in Singapore. Photo by Jnzl's Public Domain Photos Follow from

Chingay in Singapore.
Photo by Jnzl’s Public Domain Photos
Follow from

The biggest celebrations for CNY in Southeast Asia occur in Malaysia and Singapore. Both countries have Chingay Parades – full of street performances and art. The name is derived from the Chinese term 妆艺 (zhuāng yì), meaning “the art of masquerading.” It’s quite the elaborate event, attracting thousands of people. Just see for yourself with these highlights from Singapore in 2014:

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For a funny look at the types of people you encounter during Chinese New Year, check out this hilarious video from Singapore-based Cheokboard Studios:

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As you can see, there’s no shortage of places to celebrate Chinese New Year around the world. Wherever you happen to be ringing in the Year of the Monkey, we’d like to say…

chūn jié kuài lè
Happy Spring Festival!


Chinese New Year in Chinese

Posted on 02. Feb, 2016 by in Culture, festivals, grammar, Vocabulary

We’ve talked a lot about the Chinese New Year – more commonly referred to as the Spring Festival (春节 – chūn jié) in Chinese – over the years here. For those who are relatively new to the blog, you should go ahead and browse through our Beginner’s Guide to the Spring Festival, which has links to past posts detailing the history, traditions, superstitions, and much more. Read through those, and you’ll be an expert on the most important holiday in the Middle Kingdom. While you’re at it, you might as well read about my Very Chinese Chinese New Year last year to get a feel for what it’s like celebrating the holiday in a village.

How we celebrated CNY last year in Yunnan.

How we celebrated CNY last year in Yunnan.

As this is a blog focused on both culture and language, I thought I’d go ahead and post about Spring Festival in Chinese. Here are ten sentences describing the Spring Festival, each in Chinese, pinyin, and English for you to study.

chūn jié shì zuì zhòng yào de jié rì zài zhōng guó
Spring Festival is the most important holiday in China.

chūn jié yě jiào zhōng guó xīn nián
Spring Festival is also called Chinese New Year.

měi gè rén yào huí lǎo jiā guò nián
Everyone wants to return to their hometown to celebrate the New Year.

yīn wèi měi gè rén yào huí jiā, suǒ yǐ mǎi chē piào tè bié nán
Because everyone wants to go home, it’s very difficult to buy tickets.

chú xì de shí hòu, jiā rén zài yī qǐ chī nián yè fàn
On New Year’s Eve, family members eat a New Year dinner together.

běi fāng rén xǐ huān chī jiǎo zi, nán fāng rén xǐ huān chī nián gāo
Northerns like to eat dumplings, Southerners like to eat New Year cakes.

měi nián hěn duō rén kàn “chūn wǎn”
Every year many people watch “Chun Wan” (CCTV New Year’s Gala).

hái zi men hěn xǐ huān chūn jié, yīn wéi jiā rén gěi tā men hóng bāo
Children really like Spring Festival, because family members give them red envelopes.

hóng bāo lǐ miàn yǒu yā suì qián
Inside the red envelopes there’s lucky money.

chūn jié yǒu hěn duō chuán tǒng, bǐ rú fàng biān pào, wǔ lóng, hé chūn lián
Spring Festival has many traditions, for example lighting firecrackers, dragon dances, and Spring Festival couplets.

Now you’re definitely ready to ring in the Chinese New Year! Wherever you are, I hope you get to partake in some Spring Festival celebrations. You don’t have to be in China to celebrate, as I’ll detail in my next post about Chinese New Year around the world.

10 Beginner Chinese Videos

Posted on 31. Jan, 2016 by in Uncategorized

Learning a language is no easy task, especially one that is notoriously difficult such as Chinese. Thankfully, we’re here to help you in your quest to speak Mandarin. While we post tons of great content here on the blog, there’s also a lot going on over at our YouTube channel. There are plenty of videos about travel, holidays, food, and of course, Chinese language. Rather than waste a bunch of time searching through the dozens of pages of videos, you can find 10 of our best beginner Chinese videos right here. Bookmark this post and study these short, easy-to-follow videos for a good crash course in Chinese:

Learn Chinese on YouTube!

Learn Chinese on YouTube!

Common Greetings

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No matter what language you’re studying, you’ve got to start with greetings. Learn quite a few of them in Chinese here in this simple video.

20 Most Common Chinese Characters

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There are thousands upon thousands of Chinese characters, but your life will be much easier if you start out by learning the most common ones.

Pronouns and the Verb “To Be”

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Many think that Chinese is a very hard language to learn, but plenty of aspects of it are much easier than other languages. Whereas English uses many words (am, are, is) for the verb “to be,” you only have to learn one character in Chinese!

Counting to 100

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Bargaining is a huge part of Chinese culture, but you’ll have an even tougher time doing it if you can’t count to 100. You can also learn the hand signals that are used for the numbers 1-10.

Yes and No

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Right after “hello” and “thank you,” learning how to say “yes” and “no” is an important early step in learning a language. We’ve got you covered for Chinese in this short video.

Telling Time

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There’s a lot packed into this 2-minute video – the parts of the day, how to ask the time, how to tell the time, and more.

Introduce Yourself

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Making friends and speaking Chinese is much easier if you can confidently introduce yourself. Study this video and the examples and then try to do it yourself!

Past Tense

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Once again, Chinese proves to be easier than you might think, at least in terms of how you use the past tense. Learn how to use two characters that are used to indicate the past tense in Chinese and you’ll be well on your way.

Making Comparisons

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Making comparisons is easy in Chinese! At least it’s easier than in English. This simple video walks you through how to do it and gives plenty of examples.

A Day in the (Chinese) Life

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Ok, this video may be a bit tough for beginners, but that’s why it’s at the end of the list here. Check out what a common day in my life as an English teacher in Beijing was like and learn a bunch of Chinese in the process.