Chinese New Year is a traditional and very important Chinese holiday. It was originally a festival to honour ancestors as well as holy or sacred beings. It is also known as the Spring Festival. The celebration can be referred to as the Lunar New Year because the Chinese calendar uses the moon phases (the amount of the moon you can see from Earth depending on how much is lit by the sun), as well as the solar year.
Chinese New Year is celebrated through a number of traditions.
Red envelopes: Red is an important colour in Chinese culture as it symbolises good luck, fortune and joy. Money is given in red envelopes. The amount people receive is usually an even number. The amount cannot be divided by four, as in Chinese tradition, the number 4 means death.
Mandarin tree: No Christmas tree like the one in the west, instead, Chinese decorate their house with Mandarin trees, which represent good luck.
Making a lantern: lantern comes in different shapes, colors, and sizes, but the most common one is red and gold color balloon lantern.
Firecrackers: Firecrackers are popular during Chinese New Year. They are thought to scare off evil spirits. Some countries have banned the use of firecrackers as they can be dangerous.
Lion and dragon dances: These dances are performed by highly-skilled acrobats, under huge dragon and lion costumes. The dance is accompanied by cymbals and drums, to frighten away bad spirits. The dragon dance is a highlight of the festivals around the world, and enormous crowds gather to watch it.
Food and families: It’s common for Chinese families to have a reunion dinner the night before Chinese New Year festivities begin. Chicken and prawns represent happiness, whilst noodles represent long life.
Facts About Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is symbolic of letting go of the past and welcoming new beginnings.
Each year is named after a different animal. The story goes that the Jade Emperor requested the animals have a race so that he could decide the order of the Chinese years. He would name each year depending on the order the animals finished the race.
Rat won the race, with the pig strolling in last.