Happy Chinese New Year 2015!
2015 marks the Year of the Goat or Sheep (the direct translation from Chinese is ‘homed animal’), with 2014 being the Year of the Horse and 2016 the Year of the Monkey. The Chinese New Year is on 19 February 2015 and is China’s most important holiday which lasts for 15 days. The Lunar New Year or Spring Festival is the most prestigious occasion in the Chinese calendar, with public holidays in Taiwan, Singapore & Malaysia, in addition to China.
In countries with a significant Chinese population, it is normal for Chinese New Year to be a public holiday to allow families to get together and celebrate. It is deemed to be the biggest human migration on earth.
Chinese New Year is typically celebrated in China with large family meals. It is also traditional to clean the entire house to make way for the good luck and prosperity that will come with the New Year. Some people also give gifts of money in red paper envelopes to signify wealth, prosperity and good fortune. Each of the days of the New Year celebrations is dedicated to a particular activity. For example, the first day is about welcoming the deities and scaring away the bad spirits with fireworks and firecrackers. On the 13th day, people eat a vegetarian diet to cleanse their bodies from the preceding days of festivities, while the 15th day, or the Lantern Festival, marks the end of the New Year celebrations.
Food is traditionally meat, fish and a series of vegetarian dishes eaten on different days of the New Year festivities. A hot pot often forms part of the reunion family meal to represent the coming together of the family, and dumplings are eaten as it is thought that the preparation represents packaging luck inside the dumplings.
Some of the more famous celebrations outside of China take place in London’s Chinatown and with San Francisco’s Chinese New Year Day Parade. If you’re around, go and join in the festivities. The biggest day for celebrations in the UK is the weekend of 21 and 22 February. where London’s Chinatown is set to hold the best New Year event in the country, where parades, dancing and street stalls are in full flow. Other big UK cities such as Birmingham and Manchester follow suit.
The Chinese New Year is always in late January up to mid-February, depending upon the timing of the New Moon that month. The Chinese lunar calendar follows the movements of the moon very closely and all months have 29 or 30 days. Every few years, there is a leap year, but instead of having just one extra day (as in the Western Gregorian calendar), there is an extra month added to even up the fact that there are about 365.25 days a year (the real time it takes the earth to go around the sun).
It is said that the Chinese lunar calendar started as the Xia calendar in the 21st – 16th century BC. It is still used widely for cultural festivals and agricultural life, although the Western Gregorian calendar was adopted with the arrival of the People’s Republic of China in the early 20th century to bring China in line with the national calendars of most of the rest of the world. So in the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, 2015 is Year 4713.
On top of this, we have the Chinese zodiac system, which is based upon the movements of the Earth around the sun and lunar activity. Add in the twelve animals (rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat/ram, monkey, rooster, dog and pig/boar), the five elements (metal, water, wood, fire and Earth), Yin and Yang and you’ll start to see why the Chinese zodiac system is so complicated! The Chinese believe that the date that you were born in these cycles heavily influence your personality traits and your direction in life.
So the Chinese calendar has much more to it than meets the eye. And, so does the culture and language of China.
If you’d like to get more out of the Chinese New Year, start afresh and learn to speak one of the most important languages in the world – Mandarin Chinese. We introduce our top 5 ways to learn Mandarin, featuring some of the best and most innovative language providers in the world. It will be of great benefit to your future and give you a competitive advantage. With China being the most highly populated country in the world with over one billion people speaking the language daily – it is now categorised as the most widely spoken language in existence. It also has, along with the USA, one of the largest economies on earth and, without doubt, Mandarin has increased dramatically in popularity amongst new language learners and within school curriculums as everyone looks to future business opportunities.
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If you have been celebrating Chinese New Year, we would love to hear all about it.
Credits: Photograph – Chinatown New York Nightlight © 2008 Joe Carroll (aged 10)