Chinese Lunar New Year
Year Of The Rat (2020)
Chinese Lunar New Year : Year Of The Rat (2020)
I update this article once a year, usually about a month before the next Chinese Lunar New Year.
For this year 2020, the Chinese Lunar New Year falls on Saturday, 25 January. On this Chinese Lunar New Year, in China alone, 1.3 billion people will be celebrating this important Spring Festival. And in Taiwan, 24 million people. What about the overseas Chinese spread across the globe? Their number is estimated at 40 million. It is certainly one of the most widely celebrated events in the world, both in numbers and geographical areas.
In China, it is popularly referred to as the Spring Festival, welcoming the beginning of Spring. During this period, migrant workers would be returning to their native homes in time for the reunion dinner with their families on Chinese Lunar New Year‘s eve. This is the period where the largest human migration takes place, not only in China but also across the world where there is a Chinese population.
Returning home for Chinese New Year
Ending the Lunar New Year with colorful display of fireworks
Chinese Lunar New Year : Celebrating Spring Festival
Variations in the celebration are as diverse as the Chinese communities. However, most of the Chinese will associate with the following celebrations.
• Spring cleaning prior to the New Year. Giving the home a thorough clean-up.
• Reunion dinner. This is most significant as families will gather to have dinner together on new year’s eve.
• Visits to relatives and friends.
• Wearing new clothes, especially red in color.
• Giving “red packets” (with money inside the packets) to juniors and children by married people and elders.
• Lion dance and dragon dance performances.
• Letting off fire crackers and fireworks.
• And of course, special food and drinks.
Chinese New Year traditionally is celebrated for 15 days, starting from the first day of the New Year. The 15th day is called Yuan Xiao Jie (元宵节), or in Fujian dialect, Chap Goh Meh (15th night). This day is specially significant for the Fujian people. Most Taiwanese are from this province. I am also a Fujien, or in our dialect, “Hokkien.” In mainland China, the 15th day is celebrated as the Lantern Festival. In our country, Malaysia, the Lantern Festival is actually on the 15th of the eighth month, commonly known as the mooncake festival.
As the 15th day is the last day of the Lunar New Year celebration, it holds a special significance and the Chinese make sure the end of this special season ends with a big bang and with glamor and color. The 15th day is also the Chinese version of Valentine's Day, which needs no additional explanation. And to give it a fitting culmination, there will be the most colorful display of fireworks near midnight, everywhere! It is always a loud, romantic and colorful end to the Spring Festival.
And yes, the Fujian also celebrate on the night of the 8th day by praying to “Tian gong” or “Ti Kong” in Hokkien dialect ,which I would loosely translate as the “Heavenly God”.
The Chinese Zodiac
The Chinese Zodiac has a 12-year cycle with each year being represented by an animal. The 12-year cycle repeats five times to form a main cycle of 60 years. In each of the 12-year cycles, the animals are ascribed with an element of wood, fire, earth, metal, or water. The animals in that order is rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, ram, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig.
Chinese horoscope is a very detailed and complicated subject. So we shall just leave it for now and talk about the Chinese Lunar New Year.
Characteristics Of The “Rat” Person
The "rat" occupies the 1st position of the Chinese Zodiac. In Chinese zodiac cosmology, each year is associated with one of the five natural elements of nature; metal, wood, water, fire and earth. This is the year of the "metal" rat. The cycle comes full circle once every 60 years.
According to traditional belief, the year of one's birth sign is not an auspicious one. So be forewarned to be careful if you are a rat person. Be that as it may, rat people are witty, delicate, flexible, alert and full of vitality. They make brilliant entrepreneurs. Their natural instinct of being very adaptable ensures their ability to survive in even very adverse conditions. They are also very popular with others. "Metal" rats are specially sensitive and persuasive.
Their negative traits are being timid, unstable, picky and querulous.
Famous “Rat” Personalities
Some of the famous Western personalities under the "rat" sign are listed below:
Wolfgang Mozart, William Shakespeare, George Washington, John F. Kennedy, Diego Armando Maradona, Charlotte Bronte, Prince Charles and Prince Harry.
"Xinnian Kuaile" means "Happy New Year". "Gong Xi" means "Felicitation"
Links to my related articles
- Lion Dance, An Extremely Loud Chinese Tradition
Lion dance makes a lot of noise to chase away bad luck and to welcome good luck and prosperity. Lion dances are usually performed during festivities especially during Chinese Lunar Year.
- Dragon Dance : A Spectacular Chinese Cultural Entert...
The dragon dance is the most spectacular Chinese cultural performance in terms of size and movements. It takes a team of strong and energetic people to choreograph the dragon dance.
- Dragon Boat Festival And Its Related Activities
The dragon boat race has a very long history in China. It has now become a highly competitive international water sport, while retaining the other traditional activities of the dragon boat festival.