No matter where you are in the world, you have probably heard or even witnessed the Chinese New Year celebration. This is not surprising at all. About 1/6 of the world’s population celebrates Chinese New Year each year. What is the Chinese New Year? How is it different from the regular New Year celebration? Here are 10 fascinating facts about the Chinese New Year that you should know.
1. Date Changes
Unlike the regular New Year’s day in the Gregorian calendar which is observed every first day of January, the date of the celebration of the Chinese New Year varies every year. The date is based on the lunar calendar. In contrast to the Gregorian calendar which is based on the position of the sun; the lunar calendar is based upon the cycle of the moon. Because of this, the Chinese New Year is normally celebrated between January 20 to February 20 of each year.
2. Use of Animals to Represent a Year
There is a 12-year cycle in the Chinese Zodiac. An animal sign represents each year. The Chinese believed that the attributes of the whole year is based on the animal’s characteristics and living habits. For 2021, it is the year of the ox. An ox is hardworking. Hence, it is believed to be a year where people need to work harder to be able to accomplish anything.
3. A 15-Day Celebration
Although this year’s celebration may be different because of the pandemic, normally the Chinese New Year is a 15-day celebration. Also known as the Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year is celebrated until the 15th day of the Lunar month. During the festival, the Chinese people welcomes spring and everything it represents – planting, harvests and new beginnings. There are parties, fireworks, parades, red lanterns and the iconic dragon dances everywhere. It ends on the Lantern Festival.
4. Everything is in Red
Red is an auspicious color. It symbolizes good fortune, success, wealth and happiness. This is why the Chinese decorates everything in red from the lanterns to the paper arts. They also prefer wearing red during the festivities.
5. Giving of Red Packets
Red packets/envelopes containing cash are given to children, grandchildren or employees as New Year’s gifts. The red envelope symbolizes blessings and good luck. It is a tradition for those who are already earning money to share their blessing with others. Only even number of bills are allowed inside the red packets.
6. Day with Most Fireworks in the World
People welcome the coming of the New Year through fireworks. The purpose of the fireworks is to ward off evil spirits and bad luck. It is a tradition that dates back over 2,000 years ago. People then were trying to scare Nian, a monster through fireworks. Based on the legend, Nian goes out to eat the villagers and destroy their houses every spring.
7.Largest Annual Human Migration in the World
The spring festival is all about family reunions. Before the pandemic, millions of Chinese around the world go back to their ancestral homes during the festival. All members of the clan should be at home just in time for the Chinese New Year dinner. The Chinese call this phenomenon the Chunyun meaning spring migration.
8 . Singles Sometimes Hire Fake Girlfriends/ Boyfriends to Bring Home
Producing offsprings is one filial obligation that the Chinese take seriously. It is very important matter for the family that some single Chinese who are of marrying age are pressured to bring even a fake girlfriend or boyfriend back home to introduce to the family as a temporary solution to their dilemma.
9. List of Taboos
There are things that one should not do during the Chinese New Year:
- No eating porridge. Porridge is a sign of poverty.
- No washing of hair and clothes. It washes good luck away.
- No cleaning and throwing out of garbage. It sweeps wealth away.
- No black and white clothes. They are unlucky colors.
- No lending or borrowing money. It leads to debt.
- No use of sharp objects like scissors and knives. They cut wealth.
- No bad words like “death” and no arguing. It attracts negative things.
10. Everyone’s Birthday
On the 7th day of the celebration is “Human Day” or Renri. It is the day on which the Goddess Nu Wa created mankind. Considered as a common birthday for all human beings, everyone gets to be a year older on this day.
Gong Xi Fa Cai!
First published in Pinoy Smart Living on 02.06.2019