Chinese New Year

With Chinese New Year coming soon, the new year beginning on the 1st of February with the tiger being this year’s zodiac animal, this article will hopefully be able to share some general information about it. Chinese New Year is widely celebrated by various countries and festivities are often showcased in many countries where there may be a community that celebrates it seriously. A popular example in the UK would be the Chinese New Year celebrations that take place in Chinatown in London with lion dances and dragon dances performed by specially trained troupes. However, the festivities in London’s Chinatown will be cancelled this year due to safety precautions for COVID-19.  

When does Chinese New Year begin? 

One of the most interesting things about Chinese New Year is that it differs and changes dates according to the Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar is the most widely used calendar, the UK having adopted it in 1752. The new year for those using the Gregorian calendar is on the 1st of January, however, the Chinese use a lunar calendar to decide when the new year starts. Although Chinese New Year is on the 1st of February this year, some may have noticed that it changes date according to the Gregorian calendar. Chinese New Year begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice, which is why the dates tend to vary each year from the end of January to the beginning of February. 

Who celebrates Chinese New Year and how? 

Even though it is commonly known as Chinese New Year, there are many East Asian countries that celebrate it as well but refer to the holiday as Lunar New Year, such as South Korea and Vietnam. Different cultures will celebrate it slightly in their own traditional methods. This article will be talking about the general way that Chinese people tend to celebrate it. As mentioned in the introduction, there will usually be festivities for everyone to join and watch. Countries that have a community of Chinese people living there will perhaps be able to witness how it is celebrated. In London, there are usually performances, the most famous being the lion dance and dragon dance. For the lion dance, there will be two dancers (usually performed by kung fu practitioners) controlling one lion, one person acting as the head and front legs, the other being the rear legs. By the end of the dance, the lion will jump and try to eat the lettuce, sometimes throwing it to the audience to symbolise good luck and prosperity. When it is finally safer for large groups to gather next year, I encourage people to perhaps go watch the dance and join in the festivities! 

What are some traditions? 

One of the most well-known traditions is the giving of red envelopes with money inside. It is given to young people by elders. In my family, all the married members will give red envelopes to everyone that is not married, even older adults. Red is considered a lucky colour, so red will be seen everywhere, family members may be even wearing red clothes. Families will usually gather and have dinner altogether as well. They will also usually clean the entire house whilst ushering the new year in, this is to rid any lingering bad luck. My mother used to tell me as a child that I had to shower before the new year ends, otherwise, I would turn into a cow. 

Whether you call the celebration Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year, I hope that you will enjoy the festivities if possible and have a great 2022!

Just for fun and curiosity, you can check what your zodiac animal is here, the animal that represents the year you are born in, and see what your zodiac horoscope will be this year. 

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