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.
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.
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.
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.