Chinese New Year (CNY) is one of the most celebrated festivals in the world. You’ve probably heard about this occasion once in your life, and at some point, got curious about its interesting customs.
What is Chinese New Year, and why is it being celebrated? Here, we rounded up some interesting facts about the most important festival in China.
CNY is celebrated to mark the end of the coldest days and to welcome spring. That’s why it is also called Chunjie, or Spring Festival. It’s the holiday to mark fresh starts and new beginnings that come along with the season. Likewise, CNY is called Lunar New Year to celebrate the start of the new Lunar calendar.
Traditionally, CNY is held for farmers to have a lengthy rest from their work and reenergize for the new year. They take the time to show gratitude for the blessings of the past year and to pray to god for bountiful harvests in the coming year. Chinese families also get together to pray to their ancestors, which they treat as gods, for good fortune.
A CNY celebration wouldn’t be complete without setting firecrackers or fireworks. This is done following the legends that explosive sound can scare away evil spirits. These evil spirits are known to bring you bad luck.
The celebrations for CNY usually begin on New Year’s Eve up until the Lantern Festival, 15 days after. So, the Lunar New Year celebration typically runs for almost half a month. However, preparations like cleaning, shopping, and cooking start early.
Unlike Thanksgiving or Christmas, there is no fixed date for CNY. This is because it follows the Lunar calendar. The date falls on the second new moon after the December solstice or before the March equinox, ranging from January 21 to February 20. Thus, the varying dates.
Each lunar year is associated with a zodiac animal sign. These animals are believed to decide one’s luck throughout the year. In 2021, the prevailing zodiac is the Ox. The 12 zodiac animals repeat on a 12-year cycle.
According to Chinese beliefs, the year of your Chinese zodiac is your unluckiest year. So, if you were born under the sign of the Ox, and it becomes the prevailing zodiac of the year, you’ll be generally unluck. To counter this, wear red clothing such as red shirts, red underwear, and red bracelets, and more.
Sweeping, washing the dishes, and other forms of cleaning are a big no-no on the first day of the new year. You aren’t even allowed to take a shower because all these are considered washing away good luck. Either you do these before midnight of CNY or the second day of the new lunar year.
Enjoying a special meal with your family isn’t only great, but it’s also done to bring daji dali (good luck and fortune) for the rest of the year. Different Chinese New Year food also holds different meanings, so prepare a big meal at midnight to mirror a prosperous life ahead.
The shape of dumplings resembles silver and gold ingots. As such, it is considered a symbol of attracting wealth for the new year. That’s why you’ll see dumplings in every family’s New Year’s Eve dinner, especially in North China.
In Chinese beliefs, red is considered the most auspicious color. Red is believed to be blessed with prosperous energy that grants people good luck. It is also traditionally used to ward off spirits and misfortune. That’s why the Chinese fill their homes with red decorations to set the tone for the rest of the year.
The lucky red practice also extends to the clothes and accessories you wear. Wearing red from head to toe—new clothes, shoes, red bracelets—on New Year’s Eve also goes with the festive mood of the occasion.
Doing so means the elders are passing off their fortune to kids. It’s one way to wish other people good fortune in the coming year. This also applies to friends, co-workers, and bosses and employees. So, if you receive a red envelope that includes money, you’re going to be lucky.
You’ll see these traditional performances in Chinatowns near you. The dragon and lion dances are performed to drive away evil and misfortune. It is also done to pray for good fortune for the incoming year.
CNY isn’t only a big festival in China. It is also being celebrated by its neighboring countries in Asia, as well as the countries in the West. As the Chinese culture has spread all over the world, you’ll find many non-Chinese families observing the tradition of the Spring Festival.
If you want to join in the celebration and greet anyone a Happy Chinese New Year, you can say it in different ways. The most common greeting is the Cantonese way, which is “Gong hei fat choy.” In Mandarin, you can greet friends and family with “Gong xi fa cai.” A more formalgreeting is “Xin nian kuai le” that you can use to greet strangers.
Did you get all of that?
To our dear customers at Inner Wisdom Store, we wish you a Happy Chinese New Year!
Gong xi fa cai!
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