Chinese new year! Millions of people celebrate the Lunar New Year in February. This year 2024 is on Saturday 10th February. It is one of the most important festivals of the year for many East and South East Asians (Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand), and it will be celebrated by communities throughout the world. Families and friends gather to eat a lot of delicious food, watch fireworks, and dress up to celebrate the event.
The New Year traditionally begins with the first new moon, which comes around the end of January and lasts for the first 15 days of the first month of the lunar calendar. This differs from the ‘Gregorian’ calendar used in the UK, which begins on January 1st.
The Shang Dynasty, which ruled in the 14th century B.C., is claimed to have established Chinese New Year. Emperor Wu of Han (140-87 B.C.) settled the custom of performing rites on the first day of the Chinese calendar year.
Each year in the Lunar calendar is symbolised by one of the 12 zodiac animals that make up the cycle of 12 stations or “signs” along the sun’s apparent course through the universe. The 12 zodiac animals are: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. Aside from the animals, the traditional lunar calendar includes five elements: earth, water, fire, wood, and metal. Each year is connected with an animal that represents an element. The year 2024 is set to be the Year of the Wooden Dragon. If you are eager to learn more about its features, visit the Chinese calendar.
Each culture celebrates the Lunar New Year in a unique way, with diverse dishes and rituals representing success, abundance, and unity. People love eating a variety of tasty foods, including noodles, hot pot, dumplings, Nian gao (new year rice cake) or radish cake, fish, and tangerines, which are said to bring good luck for the next year.
In preparation for the Lunar New Year, houses are extensively cleansed to remove any unlucky spirits that may have accumulated throughout the previous year. Cleaning is also intended to provide room for goodwill and good fortune.
New Year’s Eve actually begins with a family supper, which usually takes place at home rather than in a restaurant, bringing family members together. Dinner is followed by Shou Sui, which involves family members staying awake together all night and firing crackling fireworks at midnight. Some families have traditions of offering food and paper symbols to ancestors. Others place red paper and banners with calligraphy phrases wishing good health and wealth in front of and inside homes. Elders hand out envelopes carrying money to youngsters.
The festival finishes with the Lantern Festival, which takes place on the final day of New Year’s celebrations. Parades, dances, games, and fireworks celebrate the end of the holiday.
Do you want to know how to wish someone a happy new year in Chinese? There are three common ways to say “Happy New Year” in Mandarin:
- “Xīnnián hǎo” translates to “New Year goodness“: 新年好 → “sshin-nyen haoww”.
- “Gōngxǐ fācái” means “happiness and prosperity“: 恭喜发财 → “gong-sshee faa-tseye”.
- “Bùbù gāoshēng” which means “on the up and up“: 步步高升 → “boo-boo gaoww-shnng”
Si quieres vivir en directo el Año Nuevo Chino y conocer más sobre esta y otras tradiciones, te invitamos a seguir a SOMESTYLE : una influencer gallega viviendo en China desde hace años.
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