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When Is The Chinese New Year? Traditions and Superstitions

Chinese New Year starts on February 1, 2022. This is the Year of the Tiger. Learn about the celebrations, traditions, and superstitions of this solunar calendar.

Happy New Year! No, we don’t have our dates mixed up. It’s not the new year we’re used to, but the Chinese New Year, which can fall any time between January 21 to February 21— on the second new Moon after the winter solstice. In 2022, it falls on Tuesday, February 1, 2022.

The year 2022 will be the Year of the Tiger.

What Is The Chinese New Year?

The Chinese New Year, sometimes referred to as the Lunar New Year, is a 15-day festival marking the start of a new year. The celebrations start with the Little Year, during which the preparations for the new year begin. This is a span of eight days, which fall between January 24 and January 31 this year. Next up is the Spring Festival, which lasts for 11 days, from February 1 through February 11, and then comes the Lantern Festival, which is four days between February 12 and February 15. In China, only the first seven days—starting with New Year’s Eve on January 31—are considered a public holiday, though many keep up with the traditions for the duration of the Chinese New Year.

What is A Lunisolar Calendar?

Rather than following the Gregorian calendar, the Chinese New Year marks the start of the year on the lunisolar Chinese calendar, which is based in large part on the movement of the Moon. As with the Gregorian calendar, days begin and end at midnight—but in a lunisolar calendar, the months start on the day of the new Moon.

Years start on the second or third new Moon after the winter solstice, which falls on Februay 1, 2022 this year.

While most people in China and elsewhere in Asia use the Gregorian calendar that we’re familiar with, the Chinese calendar is an important part of Asian culture that determines many of the region’s largest holidays and other important events. People often use the Chinese calendar to pick dates for weddings, funerals, starting a business, or moving to a new home.

Why is this Year the Year of the Tiger?

On the Chinese calendar, each year is represented by one of the twelve Chinese zodiac signs—the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig, in that order. According to Chinese legend, Buddha asked all animals to meet him on New Year’s Day and named a year after the 12 who visited him.

A graphical list of all animals in the Chinese Zodiac.
Here is a chart of the 12 animals that make up the Chinese Zodiac Signs.

Does This Mean 2022 Will Be a Lucky Year for A Tiger?

People governed by the tiger sign are those who were born in any of the following years: 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, and of course, 2022.

While you might think that being born during the year of the current animal year is lucky, the opposite is actually true. In Chinese astrology, the year that lines up with your zodiac sign is your Ben Ming Nian, a term that refers to a person’s zodiac being the same as the current year’s zodiac. In other words, 2022 is the Tiger’s Ben Ming Nian.

Chinese astrology says that when it is your sign’s Ben Ming Nian, it will be your year of Fan Tai Sui. “Fan Tai Sui” means that you are offending the Tai Sui, who is the guardian god for the year. All of that is a complicated way of saying beware—there’s bad luck ahead! It is believed that during Ben Ming Nian, a person will, at the very least, endure misunderstandings, setbacks and minor mishaps, and they are more likely to experience serious disasters. (Sounds a bit similar to those who believe in the power of Mercury Retrograde.)

Luckily for tigers, Chinese mythology has a few remedies to help ward off bad luck. These traditions include:

  • Praying to the Tai Sui early in the year for protection and peace.
  • Wearing an amulet made to protect against the effects of Tai Sui.
  • Befriending people who are favored by the current year’s reigning Tai Sui—for 2022, these would be people under the Pig zodiac sign.
  • Doing good deeds and behaving with love and kindness, especially to elders and the needy, which helps gain the favor of the Tai Sui.
  • Worshipping the Tai Sui, often by setting up a shrine in your home to make offerings to both the god and the year’s zodiac animal.
  • Wearing red, which is said to help improve your fortunes and ward off Fan Tai Sui since it is considered a joyous and auspicious color.

Tiger Traits

People who are tigers are considered ferociously independent with strong self-esteem. They are optimists, enthusiastic, and energetic—though they tend to be loners. Tigers love independence, valuing personal space highly. They’re cheerful and lively—though sometimes this can make them seem thoughtless. Tigers are also courageous and tenacious. While they’re self-confident, this can sometimes lead to them being uncooperative with others. Tigers can also be quite rebellious.

With so much mythology and so many rich traditions behind them, the Chinese New Year and the Chinese Zodiac are fun to learn about. And if you happen to be a Tiger, then make sure to play it careful this year!

— Author Amber Kanuckle

Which Chinese Zodiac Animal are you?

Rat

  • Years: 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020…
  • Traits: Known for originality and initiative; intelligent, energetic, trustworthy, hardworking, loyal, perfectionist, easily angered but forgiving. Loves to gamble.

Ox

  • Years: 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021
  • Traits: Patient, persistent, leader, orderly, cheerful, good speaker, somewhat, stubborn, easily angered, alert mentally. Cautious in dealing with people.

Tiger

  • Years: 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022…
  • Traits: Courageous, aggressive, candid, compassionate, likes flattery, virtuous, very friendly, deep thinker, very logical, gentle, kind.

Rabbit

  • Years: 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023…
  • Traits: Talented and articulate, thrifty, very affectionate, diplomatic, tactful, peace lover, good financial mind, seldom ill-tempered. Very sentimental.

Dragon

  • Years: 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024…
  • Traits: Good sense of humor, very sincere, soft hearted, has strong opinions, honest, brave, passionate, inspires trust, healthy, willing to help others, eager to learn.

Serpent

  • Years: 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025…
  • Traits: Very wise, beautiful mind and body. Fickle, affectionate, seldom discouraged. Strong willed, good organizer, intelligent and knowledgeable.

Horse

  • Years: 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026…
  • Traits: Extremely independent, artistic, loves music, drama, and literature, strong-willed, energetic, strives for perfection, optimistic and loving.

Sheep

  • Years: 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027…
  • Traits: Elegant in dress, creative, shy, easily led, religious, exercises good taste, easy to please, sometimes pessimistic, loves art, good thinker, friendly.

Monkey

  • Years: 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028…
  • Traits: Very clever, charming, loves to read. Enthusiastic, skillful. Has good common sense, loves adventure and travel. Talkative, agile and has a good memory.

Rooster

  • Years: 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029…
  • Traits: Honest, good worker, self-confident, ambitious, deep thinker, realistic. Excellent foresight, not easily discouraged. Outspoken and frank.

Dog

  • Years: 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030…
  • Traits: Loyal, dependable, honest, good executive, sense of humor. Very generous, always helping others. Outgoing, good leaders, artistic, gentle and kind.

Pig

  • Years: 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031…
  • Traits: Chivalrous and gallant, honest, great thirst for knowledge, dislikes arguments, kind, well-liked, calm. A slow but careful nature, easy-going manner.

(From the 1980 Farmers’ Almanac)

9 Chinese New Year Superstitions

Don’t cut your hair! According to Chinese superstition, haircuts should be scheduled before the Chinese New Year begins.
  1. Housecleaning should be done before the Chinese 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Setting off firecrackers on New Year’s Eve scares away evil spirits while sending out the old year and welcoming the new one.
  4. 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.
  5. Do not use references to death or the past, use foul language and unlucky words, or the telling of ghost stories, which are taboo on this day.
  6. 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 8 is considered good luck.
  7. Hair washing is forbidden. Leave your hair as it is on the first day of the New Year. The Chinese character for hair is the same first character in the word for prosper. This means washing or cutting it off is seen as washing your fortune away and dramatically reduces your chances for prosperity and good fortune in the year.
  8. Knives and scissors may not be used because they may cut off fortune.
  9. 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.

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rose

You forgot the rabbit!

Tulip

the rabbit is there look harder.

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