Whether you follow the Lunar or Gregorian Calendar, we think we can all agree that this past year has been a challenging and interesting one for all of us! New Year brings with it a sense of excitement and anticipation and as the year of the Rat comes to end we thought we'd drive into the history behind Chinese New Year and some interesting facts about the holiday.
1. Chinese New Year dates change every year based on the movement of the moon (Lunar Calendar). The holiday usually falls between mid-January and mid-February. The Year of the Ox officially starts of the 12th of February with New Years Eve falling on the 11th.
2 This holiday is also known as Spring Festival because it marks the beginning of Spring and a new solar term*. The festival that dates back 3800 years ago started off celebrating the beginning of the farming season in China as well.
3. The holiday is celebrated over fifteen days, with New Years Eve and the first day of the lunar year being the biggest time to celebrate over the festive period. There are numerous other traditions and celebrations that happen on the days leading up to the Lantern Festival which falls on the last day of Chinese New Year.
4. Each of the twelve years in the lunar cycle is represented by an animal. The zodiac animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. This year is the Year of the Ox. Each animal is said to represent certain personality traits and characteristics of people born in that year. Do you know your zodiac animal and what it represents?
5. Twenty percent of world population celebrate Chinese New Year! It is mainly observed in Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam and other Asian countries, but it is also celebrated in Chinatowns around the world.
6. This time of year is also known as the "Spring Festival Travel Rush" because it is the world's largest annual migration of people. The total trips made by people travelling over this period on various transport methods can reach up to three billion! Incredible right!?
Over this holiday period most employees have between seven to twelve days off, making it the longest public holiday. Although this year people have been encouraged to not travel to avoid another outbreak in China.
7. Fireworks are a must when it comes to Chinese New Year and it's the largest annual use of them in the world! Families set of fireworks to celebrate, but there is also numerous firework shows around Mainland China and other countries; the biggest of these shows happening on New Years Eve.
8. Another tradition that takes place on the Lunar New Years Eve is the reunion dinner. It is the biggest feast to celebrate the start of the new lunar year, with families getting together to eat and sit together to watch the CCTV New Year's Gala; a TV program that has various performances for all the generations to enjoy.
9. Leading up to Chinese New Year and throughout the festivities you will see all of China decorated in red! Homes are decorated with Chunlian or Spring Festival Couplets* and red paper cuttings, while the streets are adorned with red lanterns. People also wear a lot of red during this time. The colour is Chinese culture symbolizes happiness, wealth and prosperity and also brings with it good luck! Red is also believed to ward off evil spirits.
10. “Guo Nian Hao" means "Happy New Year" in Chinese. You'll be hearing this phrase quite a bit over Spring Festival time. "Nian" in the Chinese New Year story a monster that eats live stock and children, but he is said to be scared of the colour red and loud cracker sounds; hence why people decorate their homes and wear red, and why they use fireworks during this time. Check out the link below if you want to read more about the story!
Solar Term* (https://www.travelchinaguide.com/intro/focus/solar-term.htm)
Spring Festival Couplets* (https://www.travelchinaguide.com/essential/holidays/new-year/spring-festival-couplets.htm)
Chinese New Year Story (https://www.travelchinaguide.com/essential/holidays/new-year/spring-festival-couplets.htm)