While we just finished our New Year’s Eve parties and (hopefully) started on our New Year’s Resolutions that we set for January 1st here in the states, those that follow the Chinese culture still have some time before their official end of the year sets in. And though we’re sure you’ve heard of the occasion before and may even be familiar with which animal is said to represent 2016, we’d like to share some more insight into their holiday so that you can get a closer look at how others symbolize the start and end of a calendar year; take a look at what we’ve put together below.
Chinese New Year Facts
Did you know?
● The Chinese New Year is also referred to as the “Spring Festival,” and has been since the 20th century.
● Originally, the purpose of the Chinese New Year was to honor both household and heavenly deities, however, younger generations now view it as an opportunity to rest and relax.
● In traditional Chinese culture, the New Year was considered the single most important festival found on the calendar. It is said to begin in the middle of the 12th month and end in the middle of the first.
● Once the Western calendar was used in China around 1912, New Year’s Day also began to be celebrated on January 1st. However, in 1996, Chinese leaders reverted back to their roots and implemented a vacation period (known as Spring Festival) that lasted for one week to celebrate the New Year.
● According to Chinese tradition, each new year is represented by one of the 12 zodiac animals.
Chinese New Year 2016
Based on the Chinese Lunar calendar, the Chinese New Year falls on Monday, February 8th in 2016. This year’s zodiac animal, the monkey, is known to be intelligent and creative – but don’t let it fool you! Another one of its many personality traits is its aptitude for being mischievous.
For those who are born this year, or for those who have been born during the year of the monkey in the past (1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004), you may find luck with the numbers 4 and 9, or with colors such as gold and blue.
Chinese New Year Traditions and Symbols
Like most other holidays, the Chinese New Year is associated with tons of traditions and symbols; three that we find the most interesting are:
1. Dinner: Similar to how you may sit down for a large family meal on Thanksgiving or Christmas, in traditional Chinese culture, dinner on New Year’s Eve is often viewed as the most important meal of the year. So, if you’re looking for ways to celebrate in your own home, consider a family gathering with a feast!
2. Dragons: Did you know that a Chinese cultural belief is that individuals are descendents of dragons? That said, it isn’t unusual to see this particular animal reflected in drawings or costumes. In fact, on certain days throughout the Chinese New Year, it is said that there are even dancing dragon performances!
3. Festival of Lanterns: The Festival of Lanterns, which occurs on the 15th day of the New Year, is known to symbolize the last of the Chinese New Year celebrations. On this day, individuals are known to either A) light lanterns throughout the streets, or B) create paper lanterns on wheels, often in the shape of the animal of the year! Now that you know, get your creative juices flowing and create a monkey lantern of your own!