“You say ‘Chinese New Year’ to make people understand that it’s special New Year rather than the international New Year. Chinese people call it ‘Spring Festival’. We do say happy New Year, but when translated, it mostly makes you think about the international New Year. People do say ‘happy New Year’ during Spring Festival too, but Chinese nationals know that you’re talking about Spring Festival rather than the international New Year,” clarifies Xiao Zhao, who works at an embassy in Beijing.
The distinction between the two terms can be confusing; especially when subject to translation. In practice, however, they are the same 15 day celebration and the terms are used inter-changeably. Dai Zhezhen, a student from Chaozhou, a small town in south China, alludes to the symbolism of each day of the New Year festivities.