The Chinese New Year is a joyous festival and is celebrated by the people of China with pomp and gaiety. It is one of the biggest festivals in China and is also known as the "Spring festival" in modern Mainland China as it marks the arrival of Spring. The dates of the Chinese New Year are according to the Chinese calendar, which is a Lunar calendar. The Chinese have 12 animal zodiac signs and each new year is represented by an animal. In 2020, the Chinese New Year will begin on January 25, Saturday. 2020 will be dedicated to the Year of Rat.
Spread over a period of 15 days, the festival will witness fun and frolic. People get seven consecutive holidays on the Chinese New Year and use it to the fullest by indulging in festivities and merry making. Family gatherings and annual reunion dinners are arranged to celebrate the festival with full fervor and enthusiasm. Often friends and other acquaintances are invited to these dinners. The streets and houses are beautifully decorated, prayers are held, and gifts are exchanged to mark the festivities. The warmth of love and happiness is seen all around.
Days before the New Year celebrations, the Chinese take an off from work to prepare for the upcoming festivities. Such is the importance of this particular festival! They clean their homes to get rid of previous year's bad luck and cook meals before the New Year begins because killing animals on New Year's Day is considered to bring misfortune.
An important custom on New Year's eve is the family reunion dinner called 'Nian Ye Fan' which includes a sumptuous feast. Dumplings and glutinous rice cakes are popular dishes.
According to ancient Chinese history, the New Year was celebrated to honor Gods and ancestors. During this time in China, one will see a lot of red colored embellishments, Chinese paper cut-outs and couplets hanging on walls and doors. Firecrackers are also lit during the Chinese New Year.
There is a certain legend behind all these decorations. It is said that a beast called Nian used to come on the first day of New Year and eat people in villages. To frighten the monster, villagers began hanging red lanterns outside their homes and lighting fireworks. Following this, Nian never troubled them.
As many of you would know, every Chinese New Year is associated with one of twelve animals in the Chinese Zodiac.
These include the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. But do you know how this came to be? Although there have been many explanations, a popular one is that when Lord Buddha asked all animals to meet him on New Year's Day, only twelve showed up. He then named each year after every animal.
2020 - the Year of the Rat
Lucky numbers: 2 and 3
Lucky direction: southeast, northeast
Lucky colors: blue, gold, green
Unlucky colors: yellow, brown
Unlucky numbers: 5 and 9