Happy New Year – January 1st

Happy New Year! Chinese call the first day of the New Year “Yuandan 元旦”. Yuan 元 means “beginning” and dan 旦 means “day” so together Yuandan means “the first day.”

New Year’s day was first recorded around 420 BC, indicating the first day in the lunar calendar (Spring Festival or Chinese New Year). The first modern use of Yuandan indicating 1 January appeared in an announcement of the new government of Republican China in 1912. The Gregorian (solar) calendar started to be used during that period.

After the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949, the solar calendar (Gregorian calendar) started to be used more widely and Yuandan was no longer used to indicate the Spring Festival, but only 1 January.

Nowadays, Yuandan and the Spring Festival are two separate holidays to celebrate the beginning of a new year according to the solar and lunar calendars respectively.