CNY Brief Guide for Foreign Professionals in China
The Chinese New Year, also known as the “Spring Festival”, is the most important and longest Chinese holiday in the Chinese calendar, and is celebrated by one-sixth of the world’s population. During the “Golden Week” of celebrations, China’s economy comes to a standstill.
For foreign managers doing business in China or work in China or with Chinese partners, understanding this important time of year can prove crucial to building relations with Chinese customers, employees and suppliers.
The year of the ox in the Chinese calendar
Although daily life in China runs according to the Gregorian calendar, just as the Western World, traditional holidays and events are set according to the traditional Chinese calendar. The ancient Chinese calendar also has 12 “zodiacs”, but unlike the western calendar, these zodiac signs represent years rather than months. For instance, at present, the year of the rat ends and the year of the ox is about to begin.
In Chinese culture ox is conceived as a valuable animal, as for being related to farming and agriculture. Hence the ox is a symbol of diligence and perseverance. People born in the year of ox are considered quiet leaders, hard-workers, diligent and honest.
CNY in 2021
In “regular times”, the CNY is a colorful, noisy and crowded festival. Fireworks are heard throughout the week in the build-up to the main celebration which consists of the biggest single fireworks display in the world. Also, the Spring Festival creates the world’s largest human migration wave, when millions of Chinese people go on vacation and crowd the streets, the airports, and the trains.
Clearly, 2021 is going to be slightly different. Despite the relatively quick recovery of the Chinese market, China still faces sporadic resurgences of the pandemic throughout the country. These incidents made the Chinese government take extra protective measures, which make the usual CNY challenges even more difficult.
Read more about well-planned management of the CNY period in 2021.
5 top-tips to keep you intact through the holiday season
During the holiday, there is a complete change of routine in China. Companies are required to prepare for these significant days, culture-wise and business-wise. You are invited to learn more about logistics services in China and preparing business for Q1 in China, where you will also find a 2021 China calendar to download.
As part of maintaining and deepening business relations, send New Year’s greetings to clients, suppliers, employees and acquaintances in China. Try to formulate the greeting as a personal message, but make sure to use general greetings as well. Here are some useful options:
- Happy new year – Xīn nián kuài lè (新年 快乐)
- Happy new year (literal meaning – celebrate the new year well) – Guò nián hǎo (过年 好)
- Happiness and prosperity (literal meaning – congratulations and enrichment) – Gōng xǐ fā cái (恭喜 发财)
- Good health – Shēn tǐ jiàn kāng (身体 健康)
- Business flourishes – Shēng yì xīng lóng (生意 兴隆)
In many places, it is common to gift employees with red envelopes or packets containing money. The amount can be any amount consisting of the lucky number 8. The red packets are a symbol of good luck. This is one of the most important holiday customs but today a large part of the red envelopes is sent virtually, mainly through the Wechat App.
Do not talk about money
During CNY holiday it is not advisable to talk about money or demand a repayment of debt, nor is it acceptable to lend money as this is considered a sign of bad luck.
Even number presents
If you want to bring gifts, prepare them in even numbers, for example, 2 or 4 bottles of wine, but not 3 of them. Odd numbers are notoriously viewed as unlucky in Chinese culture.
Supply chain preparation
Make sure you have enough stock prepared. It is not recommended to plan imports or exports just before the holiday, and certainly not during it. There is a significant slowdown in customs and in all shipping and distribution processes in the weeks before and after the holiday, and on the holiday itself everything comes to a standstill.
We at PTL Group wish you the very best in your Chinese New Year celebrations and a prosperous year of the ox.