Why the Chinese New Year Impacts Production Timelines

Posted by Melissa Kovach on Jan 22, 2019 3:45:06 PM
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While the two-week Chinese Spring Festival doesn’t start until February 5, the annual New Year celebration delays our private label apparel, custom merchandise, and promotional product manufacturing timelines by about four weeks.

FUWEI Embroidery Machine
A FUWEI embroidery machine, which commonly used in the Chinese city of Zhuji in north-central Zhejiang province. Photo by Agto Nugroho on Unsplash.

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To learn about this delay and the holiday itself, I sat down with our Senior Production and Sourcing Manager Brad Pappas, who works closely with our offshore partners every day and travels to China at least once a year — dubbing China as his second culture.

Overview of the Chinese New Year 

In America, the biggest travel holiday is considered to be Thanksgiving, with an estimated 50 million people hitting the roads and air to spend time with friends and family.

This year, the Year of the Pig, 400-500 million people will leave major cities like Shenzhen, Dongguan, Shanghai, Ningbo, and Guangzhou, all within the same 24-hour period, and go inland. It’s not uncommon for the journey to involve days of traveling by air, train, and bus  some spending three days just to get home.

It’s said that approximately one-sixth of the world’s population observes the holiday inclusive of those in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Singapore, as well as, those living outside of mainland China in Chinatowns throughout the world. 

Considered the largest human migration in the world and the longest public holiday, chunyun, is the beginning of the New Year on the Chinese lunar calendar (the U.S. follows a solar calendar). 

Chinese tassels hanging at Brad Pappa's desk at Anthem Branding
Five Chinese tassels hang at Brad Pappa's desk at Anthem Branding.


For larger apparel factories, for example, may have 1-2 experienced seamstresses and three production floor workers in a crew of 20 that just never show back up. The factory might need that extra 10-15 days to get good help back and up to speed. "We often note that the two week holiday essentially ceases the entire month of offshore production with our Asian manufacturing partners,” says Pappas. “Many workers will live all year, working six sometimes seven days a week, at the factory they work at, save their money, and bring it all back home with them for the holiday  often not returning to work.” 

2019 is the Year of the Pig 

Similar the western astrological sign, Capricorn, the Pig is the last of the 12 lunar zodiac cycles. The Pig is said to represent good luck, money, honesty, prosperity, and fertility.

People born in the year of the Pig are said to be hard-working, peace-loving, truthful, generous, indulgent, patient, reliable, and trusting. 

3 Common Chinese New Year Traditions and Rituals 

Red Chinese lanterns, a traditional New Year decoration. Photo by Henry & Co. on Unsplash.

Once people make it to their families, there are some steadfast traditions that are adhered to, including: 

1. Lunar New Year's Eve reunion dinner (Tuan Nian or Wei Lu)

The reunion dinner is a ritual observed on the Lunar New Year’s Eve and is used to spend time with family looking back at the previous year. The Chinese consider the dinner the most important part of the entire celebration, traditionally translated as a family gathering. 

 Traditional-Chinese-food Some traditional Chinese dishes Pappas' enjoys during visits with Anthem Branding's offshore partners. (Left) Preparing 'Zongzi', a Chinese sticky rice dumpling wrapped in large bamboo leaves. (Center) Chicken drumstick soup. (Right) Zongzi are cooked by being steamed or boiled.  a Chinese sticky rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves. Photos provided by Brad Pappas, used with permission.
Two traditional Chinese dishes Pappas' enjoys during visits with Anthem Branding's offshore partners. (Left) Preparing 'Zongzi', a Chinese sticky rice dumpling wrapped in large bamboo leaves. (Center) Chicken drumstick soup. (Right) Zongzi are cooked by being steamed or boiled.  a Chinese sticky rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves. Photos provided by Brad Pappas, used with permission.


2. Fireworks

The Chinese consider the dinner the most important part of the entire celebration, traditionally translated as a family gathering. 

Similar to the western tradition of fireworks at the start of the New Year, fireworks are a fundamental activity for the CNY. All families are said to set off fireworks to mark the beginning of the Spring Festival. 

3. Red decorations

Every holiday has its own brand colors in a sense and the CNY is no different. Celebration decorations for the CNY are mostly red such as lanterns, paper cuttings, and clothing — symbolizing happiness, wealth, and prosperity for the Chinese culture and is believed to fend off evil spirits and attract good luck.   

 

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