The Chinese New Year is the celebration of the beginning of the year for the Chinese.
The date on which they celebrate it is different from ours, since for the festivities they use the lunar calendar, unlike us, who use a solar calendar.
Moreover, they celebrate it with their own different traditions.
When is the Chinese New Year?
Every year is a different day, but it is always between January 21 and February 20.
Chinese New Year is the first day of the first lunar month. The celebrations last 15 days, although currently only 7 are holidays for the Chinese.
New Year’s Eve (chuxi) is similar to “New Year’s Eve“. It is celebrated the night before the first day of the first lunar month.
The Chinese New Year festivities end on the day of the Chinese lantern festival, which is the 15th day of the first lunar month.
Chinese New Year Animals 🐉
In Chinese culture, each year of a cycle of 12 corresponds to one animal. The animal of the year in which you were born will influence your personality. This is called the Chinese horoscope or Chinese astrology.
In the new year, the animal that corresponds to the new year is worshipped. These are, in order: Rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, cock, dog and pig.
This order is explained in several legends of the origin of the Chinese zodiac.
Each animal also corresponds to an element, a planet, a color and some qualities.
Chinese New Year Celebrations 🎆
Each Chinese New Year celebration is celebrated with particular customs. The celebrations begin on Chinese New Year’s Eve.
Days before, the house must be cleaned to attract the good spirits and drive out the bad ones. They also have the custom of not cleaning it on the first and second day of the Chinese New Year, as this would make the good luck disappear.
The day before in the morning, the spring distiches are stuck on the doors, always in red.
On the distich, sayings of good fortune are written and the character “Fu” is written in the centre. Of course, they put red lanterns on their houses and some new year’s paint.
Some stick images of gods on their doors, especially the one of the protective gods. The northern Chinese, on the other hand, paste paper cut out of agricultural motifs on their windows.
The family then gathers for dinner. The most typical meal is the Jiao Zi, that is, Chinese dumplings. It is traditional to put a special filling or a coin into one of them. Whoever finds it, will be lucky during the next year.
However, the southern Chinese usually serve niangao cakes (a rice flour cake).
In turn, the elders give the children red envelopes with money in them. These envelopes are called Ya Sui Qian.
Legend has it that the Sui demon made children sick on New Year’s Eve. When they were cured of the illness, they would turn into fools.
To prevent the Sui-demon from playing around, the children’s parents didn’t sleep all night until they realized that the money stuffed in a red paper scared off the Sui-demon.
That’s why it’s still given to children as a symbol of protection.
Other New Year’s Customs in China
While dinner is being served, the Chinese watch the New Year’s gala broadcast on Chinese television (CCTV), and at midnight firecrackers and fireworks are lit to welcome the new year.
Other Chinese like to go to temples and wait for the first bell of the year to ring at 12.
On New Year’s Day in China, offerings are made to the gods and ancestors on the altars (both in the temples and in the houses). They are illuminated with candles, 3 incense sticks are placed, two vases, and a food offering is made to them.
In the cemetery, relatives sweep the graves and offer their respect to the ancestors.
All the Chinese dress up in new clothes and go to visit their friends and family. They greet everyone with the word “Gongxi,” which means “respectful joy“.
In some places in China, especially in Hong Kong and Macao, you can see the dragon and lion dances.
The rest of the days until the 8th day of the first lunar month, friends and family continue to visit. On the 8th, work is resumed.
End of the Chinese New Year 🏮
The 15th is the end of the Chinese New Year (also called the spring festival).
On this day, the beautiful festival of lanterns (Shangyuan) is celebrated, in which it is customary to leave lanterns in the water of rivers, seas or lakes or to make them fly to the sky.
In addition, they are hung in houses, shops, stalls, streets and everywhere. Some of them have riddles written on them, that is, an enigma in the form of poetry in which one must guess a word.
You attend numerous parades and shows. The dragon and lion dances are also performed. There are dances and shows of Kung Fu, acrobatics, etc..
The streets are filled with music, drums and firecrackers.
The typical food of the festival is the sweet rice balls (Tangyuan), which attract good luck and unite family ties.
The origin of this festival was to worship the god Heaven. A god of joyful character and the first of the Three Gods of Taoism who rule over each of the so-called “Three stages“.
If you are at the time of the Western or Chinese New Year… Xinnian Kuaile!! Happy New Year!!