Today marks Chinese New Year, celebrated by over 20% of the world’s population. The holiday marks the coming of Spring, bringing with it new beginnings, fresh starts, and crops. Traditionally, it is a ceremonial day to pray to gods for good luck and a good planting and harvest season, and lasts 15 days. Showering and cleaning isn’t allowed on this day to make sure you don’t wash away the good luck.
2019 is the Year of the Pig – the twelfth of all zodiac animals. In Chinese culture, pigs are the symbol of wealth, have a beautiful personality, and are blessed with good fortune in life. Your Chinese Zodiac sign is the pig if you are born in 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007 or 2019!
Children may receive money in red envelopes today, symbolising a transfer of wealth and fortune from elderly members of the family to more junior members. Red is commonly seen in New Year decorations too, with lanterns, strings, firecrackers, and images of dragons to scare away Nian (an evil monster that terrorises villages) and prevent it from returning. Red symbolises good fortune and happiness.
Chinese New Year ends with the Lantern Festival – a night of partying and freedom, coinciding with the first full moon of the year. In China, this evening is also known as Valentine’s day as it is seen to be a romantic occasion.
Food is an important part of most occasions, but particularly for Chinese New Year. Traditional dishes include dumplings, spring rolls, noodles, and Nian Gao – glutinous rice cakes that can be either savoury or sweet. Food is shared at large family gatherings, as family is central to Chinese society; all family members are expected to attend, and anyone absent has a place set for them anyway but left empty.
Wishing you a very happy Chinese New Year – gung hay fat choy!