Also known as Lunar New Year (农历新年 nóng lì xīn nián) or Spring Festival ( 春节 chūn jié), Chinese New Year – the time to wish people wealth and good fortune – falls on February 12 this year. While the world’s celebrations might be more subdued than usual this year, the celebrations are renowned for their abundance of colour, traditional lion dances, food, and live music.
For those celebrating the 15-day-long festivities (this year falling between 12-26 February), it is also the most important time in the lunar calendar and carries special significance for the year ahead. This is because each new year is named after one of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. Each animal carries a special meaning. 2021 is the Year of the Ox, the second animal in the 12-year cycle.1
According to Hong Kong-based Chinese and Western Astrologer, Jupiter Lai, the ox is “grounded loyal, gentle, and trustworthy”. A creature of the earth, in China the ox is a sign of strength, most associated with fertility and harvests. After a year of anxiety and upheaval, this might be just what the world needs!2
Chinese New Year customs vary across China, but you are almost always guaranteed to see Hong Bao (red packets). This tradition sees people stuffing red envelopes with cash to be exchanged at every meeting during the Chinese New Year festival. Another custom across China is to be home for dinner before the new year arrives. This is called ‘reunion dinner’ and is considered to be the most important meal of the year.3
This is an event you will not want to miss, as the new year is usually celebrated with loads of traditional food, the exchanging of red packets, and firecrackers and fireworks!3
Make sure you have got your Lunar New Year wishes down and those red envelopes stuffed! Gong Xi Fa Chai to all those celebrating.