Depending on who you ask, the holiday season is just getting started. For many people, the Lunar New Year is a festive holiday that brings closure to the past year and a fresh start for the new one. Great promise and exciting opportunities await, but not before some much-needed rest, appreciation and celebration.
This joyous celebration has a long and colourful history that spans centuries. Before jumping into the upcoming year, there are a few things to know about the history of Lunar New Year.
Names for Lunar New Year
There are several names for Lunar New Year, including Chinese New Year and Spring Festival. The celebration coordinates around moon phase cycles, and falls between January 21 and February 20 every year. The moon takes about 29.53 days to complete one phase cycle, making a lunar year approximately 354 days long.
A time for family and rest
The celebration speaks to China’s agrarian history. The holiday was one of the only rest periods for farmers, who otherwise worked tirelessly based on the pattern of agricultural production. The people needed a form of measurement that told them when to perform specific farming tasks. Born out of necessity, the Lunar Calendar defined the period for work, but also the time for family and rest.
The Lunar New Year involves lucky food, shopping and gift giving, firecrackers and countless holiday travelers. It is common for people to settle debts with creditors (or for creditors to seek out debtors) prior to the new year, make amends with oneself or those close to them, and reflect on the past year. Tribute is given to various gods and ancestors, and younger generations receive money in red envelopes as they show respect to living elders.
Chinese zodiac signs
There are 12 Chinese zodiac signs: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Each one corresponds to a year, and it is said that those born in a given year have characteristics similar to their zodiac sign.
This year’s sign
This upcoming year’s zodiac sign is the Rooster, particularly the Fire Rooster. Every twelve years, a new element (gold/metal, wood, water, fire, earth) is attached to the zodiac sign, cycling through in succession. That means that the Fire Rooster will not return for another 60 years! Those born in 2017 will be trustworthy, punctual and responsible.
A 15 day celebration
The Lunar New Year celebration lasts for 15 days, culminating with the Lantern Festival. Observers enjoy small feasts and construct elaborate paper lanterns, which at night illuminate the sky so gods can be seen. These celebrations tend to be smaller than earlier ones since the year is in full swing. The Lantern Festival is a fitting, yet subdued, end to a memorable holiday season. This year’s celebrations start on January 27 with New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Day falls on a Saturday, while the Lantern Festival will be held on February 11.
In anticipation for the Lunar New Year, New District has festive options that will keep the celebration going.
A safe and enjoyable celebration is just around the corner. All the best in the new year!