If you didn’t get the most out of your western new year celebration, perhaps you can get a second chance. Chinese New Year begins on February 1, 2022, and some of the celebrations outshine even Times Square.
Many people in the west don’t know much about this holiday. However, it is one of the most important to those of this heritage. Here are 10 interesting facts about Chinese New Year to guide your private celebrations.
1. This Year Is the Year of the Rat
Chinese astrology has 12 signs like the western one. However, they don’t correspond to different times of the year but rather the year itself. For example, everyone born in 1985 is an ox, and those born in 1986 are tigers. Like western astrology, some signs are considered more compatible than others.
This year marks the year of the rat. This animal symbolizes wealth and surplus because of its rapid reproduction rate. People born in this year have lucky colors of blue, gold, and green. Lilies and African violets make auspicious gifts if you’re congratulating the parent of a newborn.
2. It’s the Longest Chinese Holiday
Chinese New Year is also known as Lunar New Year or Spring New Year. It’s the longest Chinese holiday, lasting a hair over two weeks. It begins on Chinese New Year’s Eve and ends on the 15th day of the month.
The public holiday might cause some surprises for travelers to the region, as many things shut down so people can celebrate. Most public employees enjoy at least seven days off work at the beginning of the festive season. Prepare for a few more supply chain woes during this time.
3. It Doesn’t Fall on Any Specific Date
Chinese New Year is similar to Christian Easter celebrations in that the festivities don’t begin on any one specific date. Rather, the party commences on the first new moon appearing between January 21 and February 20.
Please don’t be fooled. Yes, the festivities begin on the first of the month this year. Next year, things get off to an earlier start on January 22.
4. It Causes the Biggest Fireworks Display in the World
Chinese New Year celebrations in Beijing and around the globe feature some of the most extensive fireworks displays on earth. Each year, pyrotechnicians create more stunning designs. The tradition goes back to the mythology surrounding this festive time.
According to legend, a terrible monster with the features of a lion, unicorn, and ox lived in the mountains. At the end of each year, it would descend upon civilization, destroying crops and livestock and even killing people. The villagers called the beast “Nian.”
However, the villagers soon discovered the monster shied away from loud noises, bright lights, and the color red. In one version of the tale, the people crafted an equally fearful monster out of cloth and bamboo, animated by men underneath. This legend inspires the lion dances at many Chinese New Year parades and celebrations.
In another, a young village boy discovered burning dry bamboo created a cracking sound that terrified the beast. Armed with these firecrackers, he drove the monster from the land. This version of the tale explains why fireworks play an extensive role in the celebration.
However, this year’s celebrations might be a bit quieter than in the past, due to air pollution concerns. Shanghai has banned all fireworks in inner-city areas, employing hundreds of thousands of volunteers to fine violators. Beijing hasn’t forbidden displays but has indicated they will enact restrictions if air pollution levels climb into the orange or red.
5. It Also Causes the Largest Human Migration
However, a lack of big bangs won’t keep those of Chinese heritage from visiting their kin. The celebration is attended by millions of people, spurring a tradition called chunyun, when people return to their home villages to reunite with their families.
However, the pandemic threatens to delay such plans yet again this year. The Chinese government issued guidance restricting non-essential travel and encouraging folks to stay at home. Those who choose to venture forth must take COVID tests and quarantine upon reaching their destination. Experts predict that only half as many people will travel compared to normal years.
6. It’s a Day for Worshiping the Gods
The Chinese pantheon contains many gods. Many families use this time to worship Tsai Shen, the god of wealth. They burn incense and light fireworks to invite him into their homes in the early hours of New Year’s Day. They also attend temples to worship and pay respect.
According to the legend, Tsai Shen ascends to heaven on the second day after the new year, once he receives his offerings. People burn pictures as they pray for a more prosperous year. They seal the deal by eating dumplings, once said to resemble ancient bags of precious metal.
7. But You Dare Not Tidy Up Your House
Chinese New Year invites good luck to your body and home. Therefore, you shouldn’t take a shower or clean on this holy day. Doing so might sweep the good fortune right out your front door.
However, that’s not to say you should welcome the new year in a pigsty. Traditionally, people clean the day before the celebration to sweep the old bad luck away. They then adorn their doorways with red to frighten Nian.
8. Children Receive Money in Red Envelopes
The children are the future. As a symbol of coming wealth, the little ones receive money in red envelopes, indicating coming prosperity.
If you have little ones at home, this tradition is a charming way to introduce your kids to Chinese New Year. Who wouldn’t like waking up to an envelope tucked under their pillow? They didn’t even have to sacrifice a tooth!
9. The Holiday Comes With Spectacular Desserts
Food is a key part of any celebration. Chinese New Year brings out the sweet stuff.
People eat almond cookies and fortune cookies. Sticky cake is eaten to appease the Chinese kitchen god so that he will smile favorably on the family’s behavior in the coming year. Folks also enjoy rice pudding, preserved kumquats, and sweet red bean soup.
10. It Even Has a Special Wine
Traditionally, folks wash down their sweet treats with baijiu, or Chinese white wine made from fermented sorghum. It’s also made from glutinous rice, wheat, and barley.
However, you can substitute any alcoholic beverage of your choice. You don’t have to wait until midnight to pop the bubbly!
Interesting Facts About Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is one of the most widely celebrated holidays globally. Each year, billions ring in a fresh start with fireworks, special traditions, and parties galore. This holiday is steeped in tradition. May these interesting facts about Chinese New Year inspire you to greet 2022 one more time!