Lunar New Year

The Lunar New Year — also sometimes called Chinese New Year — is celebrated in China, Korea, and around the world. In 2019 the New Year began on Tuesday, 5 February. 2019 is the Year of the Pig.

Lunar New Year at the library 2019

Christchurch City Libraries celebrated Lunar New Year with a range of events from Saturday 9 February to Wednesday 27 February including: themed bedtime stories, and bilingual storytimes, Chinese traditional games sessions, "A Celebration of Culture" concert, and a Family fun day.

Lunar New Year songs

Watch library staff perform songs that celebrate Lunar New Year.

Happy new year song

See the dragon dance and prance

Dumpling song

Dragon, dragon dance around


In the lunar calendar each month begins on the darkest day. The new year falls on the second new moon after the winter equinox in the northern hemisphere. Matariki, the Māori New Year, is held in June, and is a similar new year celebration for the southern hemisphere.

The actual day of the Lunar New Year varies, falling between mid January and mid February.

The Chinese zodiac

The Chinese zodiac links twelve animals to a cycle of twelve years. Many people believe that a person born in a particular animal’s year will have the personality traits of that animal. The year beginning on 5 February 2019 will be the Year of the Pig.

Chinese Zodiac art and crafts

Simple paper craft activities based on the animals of the Chinese zodiac.

Lunar New Year traditions

The festival heralds the arrival of spring and the reunion of the family. Houses are cleaned from top to bottom to remove traces of old misfortune. New outfits are brought and bills paid. The Kitchen God who watches over the household all year makes his report to the Jade Emperor deciding the fate of every family. To gain his favour he is offered the best food and his lips are covered with honey.

People paste new wood-block prints called nianhua and New Year’s couplets called chunlian on their doorways. Nianhua use symbols of fish for abundance, dragons for power, butterflies for longevity, bats for good luck, and seeds or melons for children to convey hopes for the coming year. Chunlian couplets are written on vertical strips of red paper in the best calligraphic style, expressing happy and hopeful thoughts for the coming year.

Red is a dominant colour for new year decorations and fortune telling is a popular event at this time.

Lantern Festival 2010 Dragon Beijing Opera masks Lanterns Lady

The Lantern Festival

The 2019 South Island Lantern Festival in Christchurch will take place from Friday 22 to Sunday 24 February, 5.30pm to 10pm. The event starts at the Bridge of Remembrance and heads down the City Promenade into Victoria Square and The Commons.

Online resources

Chinese organisations

A listing of Chinese organisations, reflecting a range of cultural, arts and Church associations. From CINCH, our Community Information Christchurch database.

Language courses providers

Chinese language course providers. From CINCH, our Community Information Christchurch database.

Mango Languages

Mango is an online language learning system that can help you learn a variety of languages, including Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese. It also contains instructions on how to learn English for native Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean and Japanese speakers. Use at a library or enter your library card & password / PIN.

Find information in our collection

See our list of Children's books about Lunar New Year.

Chinese migration to Christchurch

In the 2013 Census 12,486 people in Christchurch identified themselves as ethnic Chinese – this included Taiwanese, Malaysian Chinese, and mainland Chinese1. This represents an increase of some 4,000 since the 2001 census.

1. NZ.Stat, Ethnic group (total responses), for the census usually resident population count, 2001, 2006, and 2013 Censuses, accessed 9 October 2015