When is Chinese New Year?
Wherever you are in the world, its difficult to ignore Chinese New Year, which starts this year on Saturday, January 28. Red lanterns, parades, gold coins, firecrackers and most of all, giant roosters, are all part of the celebrations as we enter the Year of the Rooster.
The festival, which is governed by the lunisolar calendar and so falls on a different date every year, starts on the second new moon after the winter solstice and officially ends 15 days later on the full moon.
How does Chinese New Year affect global business?
Whatever your feelings about Chinese astrology, Chinese New Year has an enormous impact on business as its such a major cultural event. Its considered one of the biggest holidays on the planet, celebrated by an estimated 1.357 billion people, which has a ripple effect on global trade, just as Christmas does in Western economies, when often, little work is done for two whole weeks.
Workers in China get seven days of leave for New Year, and given that the festival lasts for 15 days and the Chinese have more disposable income and propensity to travel than ever before, the country will grind to a halt as people head off to visit friends and family.
Manufacturing stops and shipping slows right down as most ports close. Financial markets also shudder to a halt as its not just China that celebrates. Holiday is taken in Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam, as well as Malaysia and Indonesia, not to mention places with big expatriate Chinese communities, such as London, San Francisco, Sydney and Melbourne.
But its not all bad news; Chinese spending overseas spikes over the holiday period. New Year has spawned all kinds of products, not least a line of rooster-branded bags and coin purses from luxury London department store Harrods.
If you are doing business in China or with Chinese companies, its always useful to understand what New Year and the Year of the Rooster means to your colleagues. If you are an employer, this is the month to give red envelopes or lai see (lucky money) to employees; essentially, a 13th month of salary as a bonus. Whether or not you are based in China, be aware that Chinese employees are likely to want to take leave around this time. And if you discover that a business contact is actually a rooster, be cautious before congratulating them, as ones zodiac year is typically expected to be a tough one.
Who will crow in the Year of the Rooster?
So what might the Year of the Rooster bring? Investment group CLSAs very funny annual Feng Shui Index is worth a look; although its completely tongue-in-cheek it has actually made some pretty accurate predictions in years past. This year, after initial scratching around, it anticipates that the Hang Seng, itself a rooster, having been born in 1969, will peak in July and August. Oil, gas and tech will do well mid-year; pharma will be the top sector in April and renewables will shine in August.
Kung Hei Fat Choy!