CHINESE NEW YEAR 2020 – YEAR OF THE METAL RAT

WHAT: CHINESE NEW YEAR 2020 – YEAR OF THE METAL RAT
WHEN: 25TH JANUARY – 8TH FEBRUARY 2020
WHERE: ACROSS CHINA AND ASIA

The Chinese New Year or Spring Festival is fast approaching and the preparations are already underway. In many ways, this holiday is one of the few chances for Chinese families to gather together all generations for a catch-up. Much like the celebrations for our Christmas and New Year events, the Chinese have specially prepared meals, give specific gifts and eat to excess so you can readily see where the comparisons come from.

CNY - year of the rat

This Public Holiday has been taking place since as far back as 2300 BC and this year, the representative of the Chinese New Year is the Metal Rat. This little fella is said to be able to turn misfortune around with their cunning and wise approach. People born under this sign are said to be charming if a little ruthless, hardworking and thrifty so they have the ability to save a lot of money quickly. Children born this year are alert and lead to money by instinct and have the ability to deal with conflict with sophistication but can, on the other hand, be picky and stubborn but this is definitely a good year to be born according to the Chinese.

Also known as the Lunar New Year, unlike the Western World, China adheres to the ancient Lunar Calendar which is firstly, the reason the date changes every year and secondly, continues to uphold the values of the ancestors.

There are certain ‘must have’s’ for CNY celebrations, including:

  • RED HANGING LANTERNS
  • RED MONEY ENVELOPES
  • CITRUS TREES – A SIGN OF WEALTH AND ABUNDANCE
  • RED BANNERS WITH ‘FU’ CHARACTERS UPSIDE DOWN TO ENCOURAGE GOOD LUCK ARE KEPT WITHIN THE HOUSEHOLD

As all family members are required to return home to China for the New Year celebrations, those who genuinely cannot make it back (and it had better be good!) will have their place at the table left empty, set with cutlery, to show that they are missing the event and to ensure that the luck for the family still spreads to those who can’t attend.

Wishing my friends a Happy Chinese New Year 2020

All dishes created for the event are to give and receive blessings for the coming year. Names and symbols are said to encourage health, happiness, and prosperity and although the food included can vary dramatically from region to region, the national staples are always spring rolls and dumplings. They do vary from each area as some tend towards spicier foods and the coastal areas, stick to fish and seafood types which applies to both dumpling and spring roll fillings.

Some of the foods have specific significance as relates to the Spring Festival:

DUMPLINGS – WEALTH

SPRING ROLLS – WEALTH AND A FRESH START

WONTONS – WEALTH AND TREASURE

FISH – FORTUNE AND A SURPLUS OF FOOD AND HEALTH

NOODLES – LONGEVITY AND LONG LIFE

GLUTINOUS RICE CAKE – PROMOTION AND A RISE IN SALARY

GLUTINOUS RICE BALLS – FAMILY REUNION

It’s not all about the food though as some activies form part of the tradition:

CLEAN HOUSE – Sweeping the house and throwing out something old means to clear out bad luck and welcome in the New Year and good tidings.

SHOPPING – This has to be one of the biggest spending periods across China and begins from around 10-days before the start of festivities. The main purchases are new clothes, red decorations for the home and outside either side of the door, meat, snacks for the children and other bits and bobs like sunflower seeds, sweets, and candies, and nuts.

FIRECRACKERS – Setting off firecrackers is an essential part of the celebrations and is used to welcome in the New Year and scare away evil spirits. However, due to the environmental impact, firecrackers have been banned in major cities.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg as globally, 1.35 BILLION Chinese will celebrate Spring Festival so there had to be some westernisation going on. Big companies like Lego, Nike, and others have all joined in the fun with Lego creating a new ‘Year of the Rat’ collection.

LEGO Offers Year of the Rat Chinese New Year Themed Set GWP

Furthermore, Nike has a new Air Jordan called ‘Chinese New Year’ which does feel like a bit of a ‘back at ya’ to Adidas which released it’s Ultraboost Japan’ range featuring fireworks earlier this year.

So, it just remains for us to wish all our friends over in China a very Happy New Year – Gong Hei Fat Choi.

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BURNING OF THE CLAVIE

WHAT: BURNING OF THE CLAVIE
WHERE: BURGHEAD, MORAY, SCOTLAND
WHEN: SATURDAY 11TH JANUARY 2020
COST: FREE TO ATTEND

Each January, on the 11th of the month, the small village of Burghead on the coast of Scotland, an ancient pagan ceremony takes place known as the Burning of the Clavie. This ceremony roars through the Streets on the celebration of the original New Year’s Day, erased following the implementation of the Gregorian calendar.

It is unknown when this unique Fire Festival began, but it is believed to date back to at least the 1700s when the Julian calendar was reformed in Britain. The new Gregorian calendar was introduced, and this angered a lot of people who formed and demanded back the 11 days. For Burghead this was not a problem, and instead of protesting on the fact that the calendar changed, they decided to have the best of both worlds and celebrated the New Year twice, once on the 1st and again on the 11th of January.

Clavie 3

The “Clavie” is prepared several months in advance as it needs to prepare to burn throughout the festival and late on into the night. It consists of a cask that is split in half and filled with bits of wood and coated in tar. It is nailed onto a pole with enough space left for the carrier to fit their head in between the staves 6 in total ready for carrying through the town.

The Clavie crew, as they are known, consists of a group of 15 men (traditionally fishermen) headed up by the Clavie King. Each takes a turn in carrying the Clavie on the parade route around the fishing village, stopping and presenting bits of the smoldering embers to the three public houses in the village; this is to bring them good luck for the following year.

At the end of the route, the Clavie is taken to Doorie Hill and placed on the stone altar where more fuel is added bringing a big orange glow to the skies. When the barrel eventually dies down and collapses the blazing embers are normally collected by the locals and either taken back home where they put them in their hearth at home as this is believed to prevent any bad spirits or witches coming down their chimneys and bringing bad luck into the household. Some gather the embers to give out as gifts for the same reason and some are even posted out around the world to exiled ‘brochers’ (natives living overseas).

For a New Years’ Eve night with a difference, why not plan a trip to the small town of Moray this January.

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SILVESTERPFAD – NEW YEARS EVE

WHAT: SILVESTERPFAD – NEW YEARS EVE
WHY: NEW YEAR’S EVE TRAIL
WHERE: VIENNA, AUSTRIA
WHEN: 31ST DECEMBER 2019 – 1ST JANUARY 2020
COST: FREE EVENT

New Year’s Eve is known as Silvester in Austria and is the Roman Catholic feast day of the same-named pope and latterly the saint who died on the 31 December AD 335. However, this has no relevance to how the Austrian’s celebrate and welcome in the upcoming year.

One of the biggest open-air parties in Europe is taking place all around Vienna and this year it celebrates its 30th year. Silversterpfad translates as New Year’s Eve Trail and is an event that has 12 locations and stages with live entertainment, music, and shows. The choice is varied from soul to pop and rock, funk dance and much more, just by moving sites you can party like it’s any year.

With this year being the 30th celebration it has been promised to be bigger and better than ever. The slogan for this year’s celebration is “Vienna Connects” focusing on togetherness in Vienna with 12 hours full of celebrations, laughter, dancing, flirting along with giving luck a helping hand with comedy and magic.

Highlights of the Event

Encounter Zone – “Friends in Vienna” – this special attraction has been introduced this year at the square between Café Landtmann and Burgtheatre. As well as a DJ stage and “Bussie Bar” it is a space to bring people together and meet up in a fun but uncomplicated way making sure that no one spends New Year’s Eve alone.

Street of Luck – Take a peek into your future beforehand as the Teinfaltstasse is transformed with stalls offering free and varied entertainment such as horoscopes, fortune-telling, tarot readings and magic giving guests an amount of love, health and wealth for the forthcoming year.

Music for the eyes – bringing for the first time a visual jockey to the stage this section of the event is a visual and musical delight. Along with the jockey there will be large led screens where video artists will show impressive images and animations in real-time along to the musical performances on the stage creating an illusion of both light and sound.

Known and Beloved – Sticking to the cherished traditions of the Viennese trail the giant Christmas chandeliers will light up the pedestrian area along the street in the heart of the city. Beneath them Vienna’s ballroom dancing schools offering free waltz lessons for everyone. The Austrian mint is also out and about along the Grabben, pick up your 2020 coin available in silver or copper dedicated to the Vienna Music Association (Wiener Musikverein). Another tradition is a giant screen set up outside the Vienna state opera house showing high lights from the Staatsoper’s opera productions including a live broadcast of Johann Strauss’s “Die Fledermaus” from 7pm. For the little ones in the family, they can enjoy the cheeky and funny stars of the “Hallo Okidoki” Show.

To keep your energy up and make sure that everyone is fed and watered throughout the evening there is a choice of bars and restaurants available along with dozens of food stalls scattered around the Sivesterpfad. (Please note that there is a deposit scheme in place for cups and plates encouraging people to return and reuse).

The most popular highlight of the festival each year is, of course, the musical fireworks over the Rathaus. Starting at 8pm DJ’s warm up the crowds and heat up the atmosphere at the Riesenradplatz with a selection of music for all tastes. At the stroke of midnight, the spectacular show kicks off lighting up the skies in an abundance of sound, colour, and effects lasting 12 minutes, leaving a smoky haze and smell of gunpowder around Vienna.

Leave 2019 behind and celebrate the New Year with over 700,000 locals and visitors at this unique party experience in the beautiful city of Vienna.

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