Chinese New Year 2019

by | February 5, 2019

Chinese New Year 2019

February 5, 2019

The Asian relative of the Western New Year has several different names. Besides Chinese New Year, some call it Spring Festival, Lunar New Year or New Year festival. The celebration of Chinese New Year is vastly different from its Western relative. The celebration is held somewhere between the 21st of January and the 20th of February; however it varies every year.

The timing of Chinese New Year is intertwined with the second new moon after the winter solstice. Many Chinese people consider it to be the most important holiday of the year. The entire country comes to a halt, factories shut down and businesses close their doors. People are entitled to at least 7 days off from work, which they use for travelling vast distances in order to visit their loved relatives.

 

Chinese New Year: Largest human migration

By many, Chinese New Year is considered to be the largest human migration in the modern world. In 2018 an estimated 385 million people travelled to their relatives, mostly from cities to rural areas. In comparison, during the U.S. holiday of Thanksgiving approximately 50 million people travelled. The 385 million people are estimated to have taken 3 billion trips through air, train, boat and bus.

When arriving at their destined locations, Chinese people celebrate a festival riddled with traditions. The most known and noticeable form, which is copied by Western New Year, is setting off fireworks. In ancient times fireworks were set off to scare the monster called nián shòu (年兽). This lion-like monster would terrorize villages and could only be scared away with loud noises, fire and the colour red. Because of this reason the colour red plays a strong role in Chinese New Year.

 

Red Envelopes

The giving of red envelopes or hóngbāo (红包), is the most noticeable tradition, which shows the colour red. Red envelopes are monetary gifts given during Chinese New Year. Picking the right amount is riddled with tradition as well. The number 4, which sounds like death in the Chinese language, cannot be in the amount. Preferably, the last number of the amount is even, since uneven numbers are generally associated with funerals.

Hóngbāo are given by family members, employers, and friends. Traditionally, Hóngbāo are given by hand, however the popular phone application WeChat provides the possibility of giving Hóngbāo digitally.

 

Family diner

During New Year’s Eve Chinese families gather for a big reunion dinner. The large meal is prepared at home. One of the most important ingredients is steamed fish. The word for Fish sounds like surplus or profit. By eating fish, people traditionally believe wealth will become on them in the new year.

During the days before Chinese New Year, people clean their houses thoroughly. It is believed that cleaning before Chinese New year will sweep away the bad luck of last year. However, at the same time cleaning on the day of Chinese New year and the days that follow it will, might make fortune generated during those days go away as well.

 

Lion and Dragon dancing

In the decorated streets, full of the colour red, there is a chance of running into lion or dragon dancing. Accompanied by drums, the streets might be turned into a parade. Acrobatic dancers imitate the lion (2 dancers) or dragons (multiple dancers). The dancing with dragons and lions is believed to bring people luck.

 

Chinese Zodiac signs

Animals like the lion do not just play a role in the streets. Every Lunar year has a zodiac sign, resembled through one of twelve animals: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. Each of the animals comes with traditional traits for both the year as well as for people born in the specific year.

For example, 2019 will be the year of the Pig. People born in the year of the pig are generally considered to become compassionate, generous and diligent. At the same time, every two hours of the day are connected to a zodiac sign, therefore the hour during which someone is born is also believed to influence the character of a person.

There is are much more elements related to the zodiac signs which are believed to have an influence on the year. For instance, there are lucky colours and elements (earth, water, wood, fire, metal). Each of the lucky colours and elements vary yearly as well. Understanding the Zodiac signs is a science itself.

 

Family

Throughout traditions and signs, fireworks and money, traveling and cleaning, there is one most important aspect that must not be forgotten, namely family. During Chinese New Year, family plays a crucial role. Family is the reason why people travel vast distances each year and the reason why the country comes to a halt.

This family celebration brings many people happiness and joy, and we want to wish everyone a beautiful time with their own beloved family during this year’s celebration. No matter what your zodiac sign, culture or heritage may be. May the best of last year be the worst of next year.

 

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What happened in the year 1421?

From 1421 to 1423, during the Ming Dynasty of China under Emperor Zhu Di (朱棣) the fleets of Admiral Zheng He (鄭和), commanded by the Chinese captains, discovered Australia, New Zealand, the Americas, Antarctica, the Northeast Passage; and circumnavigated Greenland.

Due to this endeavour we can conclude that “1421 is the year that the Chinese discover the world”.