Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, will be celebrated on Saturday 25th January in 2020. As we welcome in the year of the metal rat, here are some facts you might not know about Chinese New Year.
1. Chinese New Year is set according to the lunar calendar
Although everybody around the world uses the Gregorian calendar, Chinese New Year is never a set date because it’s based on the lunar calendar—which is still used in China to calculate lunar holidays, festivals, horoscopes and auspicious days.
The lunar calendar is calculated, as you may have guessed, on the phases of the moon. Months begin on the day of the new moon, with a full moon on day 15, and are named by number—with 12 or 13 months per year.
2. The year of your zodiac animal is unlucky for you
Unfortunately, the year of your zodiac animal (also known as Ben Ming Nian) is considered to be the unluckiest for you. This is because it’s thought that people in their zodiac year offend Tai Sui, the God of Age, and become cursed. To counteract this, said offenders wear a lot of red which is thought to ward off the bad luck and protect you. So if your zodiac animal is a rat, consider adding lots of red items to your wardrobe!
You can also carry a charm with you of a creature called a Pi Xiu, a mythical winged lion, that is said to bring good luck.
3. Showering and throwing out rubbish isn’t allowed!
To make sure the bad luck isn’t washed away, you aren’t supposed to shower on New Year’s Day, and you shouldn’t put your garbage out before the fifth day! There are a number of other activities which are considered taboo, such as cutting your hair or breaking things… so be extra careful!
4. London’s Chinese New Year celebrations are thought to be the largest outside of Asia
Every year, London’s West End welcomes hundreds of thousands of people to celebrate Chinese New Year. As well as a parade with colourful floats there are performances, which are free to watch, and plenty of Chinese street food on offer.
5. Chinese New Year celebrations end with the Lantern Festival
This year the Lantern Festival will be held on Saturday 8th February. This is a time for the whole family to go out into the streets to celebrate, enjoy the fireworks and light lanterns. The festival originated from over 2,000 years ago, when Emperor Wen of the Han dynasty made the 15th day of the lunar calendar a national holiday to celebrate peace after a period of unrest.
Although it’s no longer a national holiday, the Lantern Festival is still celebrated every year and the lanterns have evolved over time into different shapes with different significances.
Where will you be celebrating Chinese New Year this year? Are there any more facts about Chinese New Year that readers might not know about? Tell us in the comments.