Chinese New Year is the most important celebration in traditional Chinese culture and will be celebrated by over 1 billion people on the planet on Monday, February 8th.
Because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar (meaning both the Moon phase and the time of the solar year), the Chinese New Year is referred to as the “Lunar New Year.” The date of the Chinese New Year can actually occur anywhere from January 21 to February 21, as it falls on the second New Moon after the winter solstice. This is why it will be celebrated on February 8th in 2016.
What Do The Chinese New Year Animals Represent?
Each new year is named for one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, which repeat every twelve years (rat, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, pig). Children born during those years are said to possess some of the qualities of that year’s totem. The year 2016 is the Year of the Monkey. People born in the Year of the Monkey are seen as innovative, clever, enthusiastic, smart and quick-witted, but also irritable.
How is the Chinese New Year Celebrated?
The Chinese New Year is a fifteen-day celebration marked by visits with relatives, the wearing of new clothes, and the giving of gifts. Chinese poetry is pasted around doorways and a huge feast consisting of eight dishes (eight being a lucky number to the Chinese) is served.
The New Year celebration ends on the Full Moon on the fifteenth day with a Lantern Festival, which includes lantern displays and the famous dragon dance.
Superstition Associated With The Chinese New Year:
- Housecleaning should be done before New Year’s Day to sweep away bad luck from the previous year. No sweeping or dusting is allowed on New Year’s Day so that good fortune will not be swept away.
- All doors and windows must be open at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve to allow the old year to escape. It also allows the good luck of the New Year to enter.
- Setting off firecrackers on New Year’s Eve scares away evil spirits while sending out the old year and welcoming the new one.
- Precedents are set on New Year’s Day. Therefore, nothing should be loaned on this day, or else the lender will be loaning all year. Mischievous children are never spanked on this day to avoid tears destined to last the whole year through.
- References to death or the past, the use of foul language and unlucky words, and the telling of ghost stories are all taboo on this day.
- Children are given red packets or envelopes containing even numbered amounts of money since odd numbered amounts of money are traditionally given during funerals. (Odd and even numbers are determined by the first digit. For instance, “30” is an odd number.) The only exception to the rule is that $4 is never given, as the number four is bad luck — the Chinese word for “four” is a homophone for the word “death.” Eight dollars is commonly given, as the number eight is considered good luck.
- Hair washing is forbidden, as it washes away good luck for the New Year. Haircuts are received before the New Year begins since it is thought cutting hair during the first lunar month of the year places a curse on maternal uncles.
- Knives and scissors may not be used because they may cut off fortune.
- Celebrants wear red to scare away evil spirits and bad fortune and ensure a bright future. Black and white should not be worn as black symbolizes bad luck, and white is a Chinese funeral color. People dress in all new clothes and shoes to symbolize a new beginning for the New Year.