What is the Lunar New Year?

2021 Happy Chinese New Year golden metal ox
2021 Happy Chinese New Year golden metal ox

The Lunar New Year is also known as the Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival. This festival is perhaps the most important holiday of all the Chinese holidays. The Chinese New Year starts during the period of the new moon which is usually around the period between January 21 and February 20. In 2017, the holiday was celebrated on January 28 while it was celebrated on February 16 in 2018. As the name suggests, the holiday is Chinese in origin, and therefore it mostly celebrated in China. However, other places with substantial Chinese populations also mark the day such as Macau, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, etc. The festival lasts for 15 days making it the longest holiday.

Traditionally, the holiday is used to worship the gods and ancestors. While the exact origins are unknown, it is believed to have originated during the period of the Shang Dynasty where people made a habit of honoring the gods at the turn of every year. Plenty of myths and legends surround this day.

The Animals Of The Lunar Zodiac

There are twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac. These animals were chosen because of their close relationship to the daily lives of ancient Chinese civilizations or because they were considered to be lucky. Out of the twelve animals, six of them are domesticated and include the ox, goat, rooster, dog, pig, and the horse. The other six are the tiger, rat, dragon, monkey, snake, and the rabbit. 2018 is the year of the dog while 2017 was the year of the rooster. 2019 will be the year of the pig. The Chinese believe that the year that someone is born will determine a lot of their traits. For example, those born in the year of the dog are believed to be sincere, independent, loyal, and communicative.

How Is The Holiday Celebrated?

There are many ways that the Chinese New Year is celebrated. One of the ways is eating food that has a figurative purpose. Korean families eat rice cake soup tteokguk in order to “become one year older.” Indeed, the soup has become so important that asking someone whether they have eaten the soup becomes the greeting on the day of the new year. Equally, the Chinese will feast on certain foods such as fish as a prayer for the year. Dumplings are also on the menu.

Another way involves giving money as a gift. The young ones greet the elders with respect on that day while elders gift the young with cash. The eldest children usually get more money than the others because of responsibility. By this logic, the amount keeps decreasing as age decreases.

Paying respects to the elderly and ancestors is also at the core of the festivities. Respect can be shown in many ways such as bowing. Others go to temples to pay respects to ancestors by leaving offerings or burning incense.

Other ways include setting off fireworks on the eve, cleaning the house, and decorating windows and doors with pieces of red paper stripes.


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