14 days ago
This week, millions of people will be celebrating one of the biggest festivities of the year - Chinese New Year. Discover more about this Chinese tradition below and see how it is celebrated across the world.
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When is Chinese New Year?
In 2019, the Chinese New Year falls on 5 February. The event is determined by the lunar calendar when there is the start of a new moon. In Chinese tradition, each year is named after one of twelve animals, which feature in the Chinese zodiac - this year is the Year of the Pig.
Characteristics of those born in the year of the Pig:
If you were born in 1923, 1935, 1946, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007 or 2019 you were born in the Year of the Pig. According to Chinese Astrology, those born under this Chinese zodiac sign are nice and good-mannered and love to help others. They're also considered to be intelligent and are always seeking to learn more. Does this describe you?!
How is Chinese New Year celebrated?
Chinese New Year is a time when families get together to celebrate. It is also a special time to remember members of the family who have passed away.
Before the start of the festivities, Chinese people spring clean their houses to sweep away any bad luck and clear the way for good luck. People buy presents, decorations, food, new clothes and have their hair cut.
Lights are put up outside homes; doors and windows are often newly painted in red. On New Year’s Eve decorations made from red and gold paper are hung down the doors with good luck phrases such as 'Happiness' and 'Wealth'. The colour red is considered a lucky colour and is supposed to frighten off the monster Nian who is thought to come on New Year’s Eve. The colour gold represents wealth and prosperity. Every light is supposed to be kept on until midnight and fireworks are set off to frighten away evil spirits.
On New Year's Eve, families have a large, traditional meal. There are different types of food depending on which region of China people come from. In the north, people eat djiaozi - a steamed dumpling and in the south nian gao - a sticky, sweet rice pudding. It is believed that the spirits of the family’s ancestors are also at the meal and food is prepared for them.
Sam Chuah, a finance assistant based in Salford, one of Sodexo’s employees that celebrated last year, said “We have a get together on the first weekend at my parents’ house for a family meal,” says Sam. “The new year celebrations last for 15 days and in China people start celebrating from New Year’s Eve with a big feast, and then spend time visiting friends and relatives over the following days.”
On New Year's Day children will wake up to find a red envelope filled with money and sweets under their pillows left by their parents and grandparents. The red envelopes, containing money are given to children for good luck.
Chinese New Year ends with the lantern festival on the fifteenth day of the month. The lanterns are often hand painted with scenes from history or legend. Everywhere is decorated with lanterns of different sizes and in the streets, there is music and dancing.
A dragon dance often takes places with a dragon made of paper, silk and bamboo held aloft by young men dancing and guiding it around to collect money.
In the UK, the festivities are usually shortened so that the lantern festival takes place on Chinese New Year’s Day.
Did you know?
Watermelon seeds are often eaten as it represents the bearing of many children
Cleaning such as sweeping is not done on New Year in fear of sweeping away their good fortune
The Chinese believe that the second day of the New Year celebration is also the birthday of all dogs, everywhere
The fifth day is reserved for staying home to welcome the god of wealth, and spending time with family or friends is said to bring bad luck!
Chinese New Year celebrations are happening in major cities up and down the UK and Ireland, including London, Manchester and Glasgow.
You can also read "21 Things You Didn't Know About Chinese New Year" for more festive information and fun facts.
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