Chinese Lunar New Year has long been the main and longest holiday in the Middle Kingdom and other East Asian countries. Unlike its Western counterpart, there is no constant start date for the Chinese New Year, and every year it is appointed at different times.
The first day of the holiday in China falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice (that is, after December 21). In the Gregorian calendar, this usually corresponds to one of the days between January 21 and February 21. The celebration usually lasts 15 days.
Thus, next year on the Chinese calendar will come February 05, 2019 and will last until February 6, 2020. And it is planned to celebrate its offensive in China from February 16 to March 2. However, officially the Chinese will rest only seven days – from 15 to 21 February.
Symbol of the Year
Each year in China is symbolized by a combination that repeats only once every 60 years. This combination represents one of the 12 zodiac animals of a certain color, corresponding to one of the five elements (water, earth, metal, fire and wood). Chinese New Year 2019 will symbolize the animal Pig and Earth element, and the main color of the year will be yellow.
By the way, every 60-year-old circle begins with a wooden Rat and ends with a water Pig. The next such circle started on February 2, 1984, and it will end on January 29, 2044.
Preparing for the Chinese New Year
According to an ancient myth, at the beginning of each new year, the Chinese are forced to hide from a monster named Nyan (translated from the Chinese “Year”), which is believed to be on the first day of the holiday to ruin all settlements: eat all the cattle and harvested crops, and at the same time a couple of villagers.
To protect their homes from this monster, the Chinese adorn them in advance: they are glued on the outside with beautiful patterns of red paper, pair inscriptions and pictures with wishes of happiness, health and longevity, and also red lights are hanging everywhere.
To understand what this love for red color is connected with, will again help the legend about the origin of the holiday. So, in this legend, it is said that one day people noticed how a Nanny, usually fond of eating children, was frightened of a child in red clothes. Without thinking twice, eyewitnesses of this surprising incident came to the conclusion that the monster frightened off the color.
In addition, on the eve of the holiday, each family carefully removes its housing, believing that in this way they cleanse their lives of any setbacks and free a place for happiness.
On the eve of the New Year, Chinese families usually gather at a table. By the way, in the Middle Kingdom it is customary to cover the table for a festive dinner richly. Mistresses, as a rule, prepare the most favorite in the family dishes. Traditionally, the table must be meat and fish, as well as dumplings (jiaozi), which are a figurative embodiment of one of the main wishes – the birth of sons.
And for the festive dinner even those family members who work or study in other cities or countries return home. All Chinese people are eager to celebrate the New Year with their parents, and therefore on the eve of the holiday all transport in the country is overcrowded and it is simply impossible to buy tickets.
The festive night ends with fireworks and firecrackers, which are supposed to scare off evil spirits and bring a spirit of peace and happiness to the family.
The first days of the Chinese New Year
Early next morning children congratulate their parents, wishing them health and a happy New Year, and in return receive wishes for future successes and red envelopes with money.
After that, they are sent by the whole family to congratulate relatives and neighbors. On such visits to guests usually completely leave the first five days of the new year.
And without gifts, of course, does not do. So, in the Middle Kingdom it is customary to give gifts from paired objects, symbolizing unity and family harmony (thus the number four is not recommended, as it is associated with the Chinese with death).
In addition, coming to visit, the hosts decided to present two mandarins, and leaving, receive from them two other mandarins. Thus, the owners and guests exchange symbols of financial well-being, which, according to the Chinese, are mandarins.