Xīnnián kuàilè! (新年快乐) to all of you~
Anyways that means Happy New Year in Chinese and the Chinese New Year is coming real soon. So here are facts about the Chinese New Year to give a general understanding about it.
1. The date is always changing
What I mean is that, the date of the Chinese New Year doesn’t use the normal calendar of January to December, which people call the Gregorian calendar or Western calendar.
So rather than using the Gregorian calendar, the Chinese lunar calendar follows the lunar cycle of moon phases where the start of the day is at midnight and the start of the month is when there is a new moon.
Now, the Chinese New Year always fall in between the end of January and early February which they call the start of spring.
Currently, the Chinese calendar is not used on a day to day basis because the Gregorian calendar is used universally.
But the Chinese calendar are mostly used for important dates such as traditional Chinese holidays like the moon festival and the hungry ghost festival.
They are also used for selecting lucky days for weddings, funerals, starting a business and other important events in life.
2. Each year has an animal representative
Well, 1 animal per year and 12 in rotation. There’s a folklore story about how that came to be and I’ve actually made a video about it. (click here for the post)
So, this Chinese New Year, which is said to be on the 8th February 2016, will be the year of the monkey. Currently, while I’m making this video, it is still the year of the goat.
Now, the animals in the 12 year rotation are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and the pig.
Here are the list of years and the animals they correspond with:
1. Rat (2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960)
2. Ox (2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961)
3. Tiger (2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962)
4. Rabbit (2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963)
5. Dragon (2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964)
6. Snake (2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965)
7. Horse (2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966)
8. Goat (2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967)
9. Monkey (2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968)
10. Rooster (2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969)
11. Dog (2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970)
12. Pig (2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971)
Now that it’s always in multiples of 12.
And apparently, it is believed that the year you were born or the animal year you were born under could determine some of your luck, prosperity and even personality. A bit like the Astrology Zodiac signs and the horoscopes.
3. Red packets
They are red packets or envelops filled with money that people give to acquaintances. It’s a gesture for wishing someone good wishes and good luck.
Its not really the money that is significant but instead wrapping money in a red wrapping is the main thing here. So it is usually rude to check the contents of the envelops in front of the giver.
The red packets are usually given by those who are working or those who have gotten married, anyone else does not need to give the red packets.
Those who should be given red packets are the elders especially parents and grandparents, young people such as your own children, your friend’s children or your relatives or any acquaintances who needs it.
So mostly you give red envelops to those who have no or less income than you as a gesture of kindness and wishing the best would come for them. Thus, how much you should give can range between $5 to however generous you are.
4. New Year sales and celebration
The Chinese New Year is celebrated more like Christmas than the new years because that is the time when shopping is done and the New Years sale is the best.
So, if you’re planning a shopping holiday, think of the East and South East Asian countries during the Chinese New Year season for a good experience.
The sales are crazy during this time because it is the time of the year for the house to be decorated with new things and be rid of old stuff to welcome the new year with a fresh and clean start. It’s also a way for the business owners to do a good deed, because : karma.
Then other than new things for the new year, they would also need to decorate the house with a new years theme like how people during Christmas decorates the house all Christmas-y. They would decorate the house with red lanterns, new year paintings, banners of good wishes at the door frame and more.
Food would also be cheap during this time because, what is a celebration without food? So during new years eve, this is when people have a family reunion and have a big feast while waiting for the new year to come.
5. Fire crackers and the monster
Once upon a time, as stated in legends, there was a monster that would come out in the first night of Spring, which we now know as the New Years Eve. The monster’s name was Nián and it would destroy their homes, farms and maybe even, you know, feed.
Apparently they like children, probably because they’re easier prey.
So people were scared of the monster, they usually just hide or flee at the sight of it and it just became a yearly occurrence.
But one day, the night of the first Spring, while Nián was approaching the village, villagers were burning some bamboo to keep themselves warm, so loud pops and crackles could be heard.
To their surprise, Nián did not attack them that night. So they did it again the next year and again Nián did not attack. So to ward themselves from the monster, they made it a yearly thing to make loud noises every new year’s eve.
Now rather than bamboo burning, people light fire crackers and fireworks to create loud noises as a tradition and the lion dances that you see during Chinese New Year, it originated from the legend of the Nián.
Also, “Nián” became the word for “Year”, so again I say, Xīnnián kuàilè! (新年快乐) to all of you~~