Chinese New Year 2024

Chinese New Year in Thailand not only celebrates a new beginning with parades and fireworks, but also an opportunity for family to reunite.
Thailand
10 February 2024

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Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, is one of the most popular traditions in the country. Streets are adorned with red lanterns, and families reunite to wish each other good fortune in the year ahead.

While the International New Year is celebrated on January 1st, Chinese New Year is held in accordance with the Chinese lunisolar calendar, complete with its own zodiac. In 2024, the Year of the Dragon, Chinese New Year occurs on February 10th. 

The 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac correspond are the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. Each animal corresponds to a year, as opposed to the zodiac of Western astrology, which corresponds to a month.

Chinese communities in Thailand

A person shopping for a red qipao in China Town, Bangkok, Thailand
Source: Apichat Khunraj / Shutterstock.com

Home to a number of thriving Chinese communities, Thailand is no stranger to Chinese traditions and celebrations. In places like Yaowarat and Charoen Krung in Bangkok and the provinces of Nakhon Sawan, Chiang Mai, and Phuket, Chinese communities typically hold parades, dragon and lion dances, light firecrackers, and wear traditional outfits like the qipao.

Apart from the festivities, many Chinese-Thais flock to shrines to pray and try their luck with siem si fortune sticks. Major religious destinations include Wat Mangkon Kamalawat (Wat Leng Noei Yi) in Bangkok or Jui Tui Shrine in Phuket to pray for health, safety, and success in the coming year.

Red in Chinese culture

Arguably the biggest festival in Asia, the Chinese New Year is most notable for turning towns red, with streets and storefronts decorated in festive red lanterns and people wearing red Chinese traditional clothing. 

In Chinese culture, red or vermilion carries a number of important connotations: vitality, happiness, joy, celebration, fortune, power—you get the idea.

Family reunions

A mother giving her son red envelopes of money
Source: 9Gawin / Sutterstock.com

The core of Chinese New Year lies in family. Relatives gather for a major family reunion to wish each other well and to honor their ancestors. Families will prepare altars in homage to their ancestors, complete with their favorite foods and desserts. After the rituals, families dine on the blessed sacrifices—the essence of the festival.

During the gathering, ang pao, or red envelopes of money, are bestowed by senior family members to their children and grandchildren. The use of red envelopes stems from the belief that during Chinese New Year, spirits will be freed to visit homes. In this case, the red envelopes symbolize good luck and are used to ward off evil spirits.

Eco-friendly celebrations

Chinese New Year is often associated with lighting joss sticks at temples and shrines, setting off firecrackers, and burning joss paper and fake money.

In recent years, however, concerns over air pollution have prompted the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to promote a new way to celebrate. Festival-goers and event organizers are encouraged to reduce all burning activities and receive their fortunes via QR code instead of paper.