Updated for 2019

Ready to celebrate Chinese New Year in Cambodia? Starting 25 January, 2020

If you’re planning on landing in Cambodia in late January or early February you should be ready to celebrate Chinese New Year!

Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year, is the most important holiday on the Chinese calendar. In China, the holiday is a two week fun-filled festival with family and friend reunions, delicious food, and resolutions.

Chinese New Year in Cambodia is not a public holiday, although an increasing number of Khmer people participate in the celebrations. While it’s not official, you’ll notice many places closed down for Chinese New Year.

Much like the Western New Year, the Chinese New Year traditions, symbols and rituals are all meant to wipe the slate clean and prepare for prosperity, good luck and happiness in the new year.

More Major Cultural Holidays

Enjoy Chinese New Year in Siem Reap

There will be traditional Chinese New Year celebrations in Siem Reap and throughout the country. Many people will actually head down to the coasts for the lunar new year.

You’ll find numerous dragon and lion dancing performances marching through Siem Reap, often stopping at businesses to give good luck. A common Chinese New Year superstition is that the longer these ancient creatures dance, the more luck it brings to the audience. These performances also take place in the countryside but on a much smaller scale.

Enjoy Chinese New Year in Phnom Penh

If you’re an avid photographer, you’ll love being in Phnom Penh for Chinese New Year celebrations. You should head to Wat Phnom and capture the gathering crowds. Immerse yourself in the rich culture of Chinese New Year traditions and witness burning incense and candles, generous food offerings, bird releases for good luck, and even the burning of fake money!

Cambodians lighting incense in Wat Phnom for Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year Ceremonies in Phnom Penh | from khmer times

Like in Siem Reap, you’ll often come across dancing dragons and lions with firecrackers and huge following crowds! Wealthy families sometimes hire these performers to dance outside their houses to bring in good luck. Just keep your eyes and ears open!

Prepare Chinese New Year Offerings

Chinese New Year offerings generally involve food — lots of it! IT’s popular to not only prepare a family feast but also a feast for your ancestors. Check out what food offerings look like in the following video.

Why does Cambodia celebrate Chinese New Year?

Many Cambodians celebrate Chinese New Year because they have Chinese relatives or ancestry. It’s also well-known that Cambodians love a good festival. In fact, we celebrate three different new year festivals every year!

  • Khmer New Year following the Lunisolar calendar
  • Chinese New Year following the Lunisolar calendar
  • International New Year following the Gregorian calendar

Since when does Cambodia celebrate Chinese New Year?

It’s not exactly known since when Cambodians started celebrating Chinese New Year. Many other countries in the Southeast Asian region also take part in the holiday.

In Singapore they have the famous Chingay Parade.

There are also celebrations held in Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Myanmar. It’s known the the holiday has strongly influenced the lunar new year celebrations of several countries including Korea (Korean New Year), Vietnam (Tết), and Tibet (Losar).

What’s it like in Cambodia during Chinese New Year?

It’s easy to tell when Chinese New Year is around the corner. Scarlet and gold festival lanterns hang everywhere from houses to shop fronts. Yellow floral arrangements brighten streets and businesses. Dancing dragons make their way through town, performing and often gathering large crowds.

red and golden Chinese New Year lanterns hanging in Cambodian shops

Shops with Chinese New Year decorations | from khmer times

And, the color red is everywhere. Decorations are red, firecrackers are red, costumes are red, and even people’s clothes are red!

Chinese New Year Zodiac Signs

the twelve Chinese New Year Zodiac animals in red on a white background

The twelve Chinese Zodiac animals | from chinesenewyear.net

There are twelve Chinese Zodiac animals used to represent the years. The Chinese zodiac cycle repeats every 12 years, making it easy to figure out whether it’s your year! Here they are in order:

Zodiac Animal Recent Years
Rat 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020
Ox 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021
Tiger 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022
Rabbit 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023
Dragon 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024
Snake 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025
Horse 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026
Goat 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027
Monkey 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028
Rooster 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029
Dog 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030
Pig 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031

Landing on your Chinese New Year animal doesn’t mean that you’re in for a lucky year, it’s quite the opposite! Your zodiac animal year is considered to be the year of your rebirth. And it’s believed that children can be easily taken by demons. Meaning you need protection from evil spirits and bad fortune! Defend yourself with the color red, in the home and with clothing.

red Chinese New Year decorations

Tons of red Chinese New Year decorations!! | from chinesenewyear.net

In Chinese astrology, each zodiac sign (dog, goat, rat, etc…) is also associated with one of the five elements. Here they are in order:

  • Wood
  • Fire
  • Earth
  • Metal/Gold
  • Water

These elements rotate in 12-year cycles. Meaning, each element comes only once every 60 years.

For example, 2018 was the year of the Earth Dog. The next year of the Dog will be Metal/Gold Dog in 2030. The next time Earth Dog shows up will be in 2078.

What is the Chinese New Year animal for 2018?

Chinese New Year 2018 is the year of the Dog (Earth Dog)!

People born in the year of the Dog are conservative and full of justice. Because of their loyalty, Dogs are valued in the workplace. They rarely break rules, except for people important to them. In life, they only wish to live quietly with their family.

What is the Chinese New Year animal for 2019?

Chinese New Year 2019 is the year of the Pig (Earth Pig)!

People born in the year of the Pig think logically and are able to fix whatever problem they’re in. They aren’t good communicators, but they’re kind and able to provide for the family. Most of them are wealthy. Their only obvious fault is that they lose their temper easily.

What is the Chinese New Year animal for 2020?

Chinese New Year 2020 is the year of the Rat (Metal/Gold Rat)!

People born in the year of the Rat like saving and collecting. They never have hard times financially and live organized lives. If you receive a valuable gift from a Rat, know that he thinks highly of you, because he doesn’t usually like opening his wallet for others. Rats don’t look for praise and recognition. They are very sensitive and know when there is trouble. When they do take risks, they’re usually successful.

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