Chinese New Year is a wonderful cultural occasion that is celebrated throughout the world these days. While individuals and families from China now live in numerous locations, Chinese New Year is often marked even by those not from the country, and it is always a big thing in schools and various other places.
The timing of Chinese New Year changes every year. This time the celebrations take place on the 19th of February. This is when the year of the Horse will change into the year of the Sheep/Goat.
The occasion is full of amazing traditions; here’s five things you may not know about Chinese New Year.
1. The Zodiac System Originates in the Han Dynasty
The Chinese zodiac, or Shēngxiào, is a calendar system that originated in the Han Dynasty. The Dynasty ruled around 206-220BC. It comes in cycles, with the 12-year cycle being the main cycle, which is divided into 12 animal years: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep/goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.
Furthermore, the system believes the universe is created by five elements that interact with these 12 animals. The five elements are earth, water, fire, wood and metal. Each year also has a specific colour signed to it. This interaction gives a specific flavour to each year. The forthcoming year is known as the Year of the Green Wood Sheep/Goat.
The signs of the Chinese zodiac and they years they represent. Image Credit: Pixabay
2. The Biggest Annual Human Migration
Chinese New Year is a big occasion and the holiday is usually spent with family while enjoying fantastic foods. If you’ve been travelling during the Christmas holidays, you might know what the chaos feels like when hundreds of people want to get home. The scale of migration is naturally much larger in a country the size of China.
In fact, more than 700 million people will be travelling around China during this time, making it the biggest annual human migration in the world!
3. The Good Luck Clean
Chinese New Year is full of different myths and traditions. One of the most popular superstitions is to clean the house before the New Year. This isn’t an ordinary clean either, but a thorough sweep of the whole house. This is thought to help get rid of all the bad luck experienced the previous year.
Traditionalists need to remember to avoid cleaning on New Year’s Day, as this is said to sweep away any good luck of the New Year. Other good luck superstitions include preventing the use of knives and scissors and avoiding crying – which is good news for children, as they can go the day doing what they want without being punished!
4. Children Are Encouraged to Stay Awake
A bit like our New Year’s Eve, Chinese children are able to participate in the New Year vigil. They are encouraged to Shou Sui, which means to stay awake as long as they can. The myth is that the longer the child stays awake, the longer the parents will live.
For their efforts, the children get hong bao, which is a traditional red packet or envelope containing money as a gift.
Hong Bao. Image Credit: Flickr, CC by SA 2.0
5. The Colour Scarlet, Loud Noise and Fire
The above three things are central to Chinese New Year. The legend goes that during the time of the New Year, a great beast called Nian would show up and scare people. This creature, which had the head of a lion and the body of a bull, was thought to be scared of three things: the colour scarlet, loud noise and fire.
Therefore, during the celebration people use scarlet decorations inside and outside their homes, make noise by shooting fireworks in the air and light candles and fires where possible!
If you are planning for a Chinese New Year party, then you can find fireworks to boost your celebrations from our website.
Gong Hey Fat Choy – Happy New Year!
Cover Image Credit: Joe Mabel CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons