The Chinese New Year is fast approaching (tomorrow) – and with it comes a host of superstitions that will apparently dictate how the next 12 months will play out for each of us. Here is everything you need to know about the annual celebration, delicious family feasts and why the Year of the Rat will be more lucky for some than others.
There’s no set date for Chinese New Year
The Chinese celebrate their New Year according to the lunar New Year. Since the lunar calendar is 11 days shorter than the Solar calendar the Chinese new year has no particular date in the Solar Calendar.
It is a day for praying to gods
The New Year was originally a ceremonial day to pray to gods for a good planting and harvest season. As an agrarian society, the harvest was everything. People also prayed to their ancestors, as they were treated as gods
But the myths are much more interesting. According to one legend, there was a monster named Nian (年). It would come about every New Year’s Eve. Most people would hide in their homes. But one boy was brave enough to fight him off using firecrackers. The next day, people celebrated their survival by setting off even more firecrackers. And that practice became a crucial part of the New Year.
The most fireworks are set off in the world that night
As in the myth about Nian, firecrackers are supposed to scare off monsters and bad luck. So people stay up on Chinese New Year’s Eve and set off firecrackers at midnight. In the morning, firecrackers are used again to welcome the new year and good luck.
That same night, families also burn fake paper money and printed gold bars in honor of their deceased loved ones. They believe the offerings will bring fortune and good luck to their ancestors in the afterlife.
The Spring Festival causes the largest human migration in the world
Family reunion is the most important part of the Chinese New Year. Everyone goes back home for New Year’s Eve dinner. But in modern China, most elders live in rural villages while their children work in cities. The earliest you can buy train tickets is 60 days before. It leads to a mad rush of literally fighting for tickets. Statistics showed that during this period up to 1,000 tickets are sold each second.
No showering, sweeping or throwing out garbage allowed!
Showering isn’t allowed on New Year’s Day. Sweeping and throwing out the garbage isn’t allowed until the 5th day of the new year. This is to ensure you don’t wash or sweep away the good luck. Furthermore, a day is dedicated to cleaning before the new year to sweep away the bad luck and make room for good luck.
You eat dumplings for every meal, every day
Technically, you are supposed to but people don’t do that anymore. In all honesty its probably because you can’t have too much of even the most delicious food. Most people have dumplings for new years eve dinner or for the first breakfast of the new year.
There’s a special wine for the New Year
Chinese people love drinking. There’s a saying in China that there’s no manners and/or etiquette without wine. This means that you need to have wine for every ceremony, festival or important dinner. With such a rich wine culture, it’s no surprise that there is a special wine for the New Year.
Every year has a zodiac animal
Much like the western 12 western zodiacs (one for each month), the Chinese have 12 zodiac signs as well. However, these signs are animals and each animal is for the whole year. 2020 is the Year of the Rat. Your animal can decide your career, health and relationship success. Make sure you find out what zodiac animal you are!
Your zodiac year is bad luck
The year of your zodiac animal is also known as your ‘Benming’ year. The Chinese believe that your Benming year is the year of your rebirth. They also believe that children can be easily taken by the demon, so for that reason, people are often asked to be cautious in their zodiac year.
During this year, your weapon of defense is the color red. Just as you can decorate your home in red for protection and fortune, you can also wear red clothing. Many people choose to wear red clothing or red jewelry for protection.
Chinese New Year ends with the Lantern Festival
The first full moon of the (lunar) year is the Lantern Festival. Though family is important, it’s still a night of partying and freedom. The day of the Lantern Festival is also known as Valentine’s Day in China as young girls and boys walk around freely moon gazing and looking at the beautiful lanterns.
The Chinese New Year is one of the most beautiful and important days in the life of a Chinese person. So, if you have Chinese friends, relatives or neighbors it would be helpful to know these facts. Or if you live in or during this time happen to visit a country such as London, England; San Francisco, USA; Sydney, Australia and you have a Chinatown nearby, you can definitely get a feel of what the celebrations are like. Make sure you go check out the parades, lion dances, lantern statues, fireworks, and amazing food!