The Year of the Pig begins on Tuesday 5th February so we’re sharing with you some things that you may not have known about Chinese New Year.
1) Chinese New Year also goes by the name of Spring Festival
In China, Chinese New Year is often referred to as the Spring Festival and marks the end of the coldest days. People welcome spring and all that it brings along including new beginnings, planting and fresh starts.
2) It is known to be a day for praying to gods and also fighting off monsters
Originally this ceremonial day was to pray to the gods for a good planting and harvest season, but according to one legend the day is also to fight of a monster named Nian who would appear every New Year’s Eve. According to the myth, one boy was brave enough to fight him off using fireworks and so people celebrated their survival by setting off fireworks – the use of fireworks is now of crucial part of the Spring Festival.
3) The most fireworks are set off in the world on Chinese New Year
Following on from the myth surrounding fighting off monsters, fireworks are used to welcome the new year and good luck. Families also burn fake paper money in honour of their deceased loved ones as they believe these offerings will bring fortune and good luck to their ancestors in the afterlife. However due to concerns around air pollution some Chinese cities have banned or restricted the use of fireworks!
4) Chinese New Year is the longest Chinese Holiday
The Spring Festival is technically 15 days but as the celebrations begin on New Year’s Eve it is often seen as 16 days. The time is to spend with your family and you can only go out after the 5th day which means a majority of the stores close.
5) There’s a day before the Spring Festival dedicated to cleaning
Many things such as showering, sweeping, cutting your hair and breaking things are said to be taboo during Chinese New Year as there is superstition that you will wash away any good luck. Therefore, there is a day dedicated to cleaning beforehand so you can sweep away the bad luck and make room for good fortune.
6) Chinese New Year desserts have special meanings
Many Chinese New Year desserts have special meanings behind them, such Nian Gao which is a type of rice cake symbolises success and Fa Gao which is a hybrid of sponge cakes and muffins represents fortune.
7) Every Year has a zodiac animal
There are 12 Chinese zodiacs and each animal represents the entire year. As a zodiac, the positive traits of each animal are bestowed on people born that year and your zodiac animal can decide your career, health and relationships. Often the year of your zodiac animal is said to be the unluckiest for you so people wear red to protect themselves from bad luck.
8) Chinese New Year ends with the Lantern Festival
The Lantern Festival represents the first full moon of the lunar year and although family is still important this is a night for partying. This day is also known as Valentine’s Day in China, as in ancient time girls weren’t allowed to venture outside by themselves, but on this night they were able to walk around and look at the beautiful lanterns.