Chinese New Year is just around the corner (beginning February 8) and this year we’re celebrating the year of the Monkey! Let’s take a look at some much-loved traditions.
Chinese New Year is without a doubt the most celebrated holiday for Chinese people, and it’s interesting to note that it all started out of fear! Depending on who you talk to the origins of Chinese New Year vary, but according to many legends, the Chinese New Year began with the fight against a mythical lion-like monster named Nian (年) the “Year”. On New Year’s Eve night, the “Year” would come out to harm people, animals, and property. Later, people discovered that the “Year” feared the colour red, fire, and loud noises so they decided to protect themselves by posting red Dui Lian (Chinese poetry) in front of their homes as well as launching fireworks, and hanging lanterns.
The date of Chinese New Year changes from year to year as it is based on the lunar calendar. While the western Gregorian calendar is based on the earth’s orbit around the sun, China and most Asian countries follow the lunar calendar that is based on the moon’s orbit around the earth.
Even though the holiday is only about a weeklong, traditionally celebrations last for 15 days, during which firecrackers are lit, drums can be heard on the streets, red lanterns glow at night, and red paper cutoutand calligraphy hangings are hung on doors. It is also an important time to spend with family. To celebrate, children are given red envelopes with money and parades are held, which include dragon and lion dances.
As with most holidays, food is an important element to the Chinese New Year. Traditional foods include niangao (Chinese New Year cake), sweet sticky rice cake and savoury dumplings (a symbol of never-ending wealth).
Celebrations wrap up on the 15th day with the Lantern Festival.
Want to join in the celebrations? Check out the links below.