Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year, is one of the most celebrated events across the globe. The date of celebration varies every year.
This year, the Chinese New celebrations start on Friday, February 16. The first day falls on the new moon between January 21 and February 20.
It is celebrated in countries that have an important Chinese population including Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Mauritius, Australia, and the Philippines.
The festival is an opportunity to honour deities as well as ancestors. It is believed that it originated in the Shang Dynasty when people held ceremonies in honour of gods and ancestors at the beginning of the year.
The celebration is rich in stories and myths. One of the most popular is about the mythical beast Nian, who would eat livestock, crops and people. To avert such destruction, people would put food at their doors. The beast was also known for being scared of loud noises (firecrackers) and the colour red.
It is traditional for every family to clean their house to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for incoming good luck. Windows and doors are decorated with red paper strips and couplets about good fortune, wealth and longevity. Red symbolises good fortune in Chinese tradition; children will be given red envelopes of money.
The traditions and celebrations go back in time and are transmitted from generations to generation; they welcome health, wealth and good relationships over the coming year.
When the Republic of China was founded in 1912, the western Gregorian calendar was adopted, but the Chinese New Year festivities persist, often called “Spring Festival” as, in keeping with its agrarian beginnings, this was the start of the new agricultural cycle of ploughing, sowing, nurturing and harvesting crops.
There are 12 animals represented on the Chinese zodiac; as well as the dog there is the boar, or pig; the rat; the ox; the tiger; the rabbit; dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey and the rooster.