Chinese New Year is the most celebrated holiday in China. The Chinese New Year is based on the Chinese Lunar Calendar, which functions as a dynastic, religious, and social guide. It is estimated that the calendar existed as early as the 14th century B.C. Chinese New Year, or Lunar New Year, usually begins with the new moon that occurs between the end of January and the end of February. It lasts about 15 days until the full moon arrives with the Festival of Lanterns.
This year the celebration will begin on February 12. Usually the event lasts for 15 days full of family gatherings, delicious food, and wonderful traditions. Unfortunately, COVID-19 may change the holiday this year.
The number of people traveling to see family and celebrate for Lunar New Year will drop because of the pandemic. The Chinese government is encouraging people to celebrate locally and even offers incentives to do so. Various discounts on healthcare, food, and free activities for children are offered. For instance, in Hangzhou, migrant workers will receive $150 dollars if they stay in the city for the holiday.
China is not the only popular destination during the Lunar New Year. Other countries including Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam attract millions of tourists during the Lunar New Year. Unfortunately, all of those countries closed their borders to holiday travellers. Even if Chinese people could leave, the returning process would be difficult. They would have to sit a 14 day quarantine in a designated area and get tested at least 4 times. Additionally, they would have to self-quarantine at home for 7 days.
To minimize spreading COVID-19, I encourage everyone to celebrate the holiday locally and in small family gatherings. Additionally, people can use digital platforms, such as Zoom and FaceTime, to communicate with friends and relatives. In addition, support and order food from local businesses, who normally make larger profits for the Lunar New Year, through the organization Send Chinatown Love. It is important to keep each other safe and help bring this pandemic to an end. Happy Chinese New Year everyone!