Chinese New Year: What Can We Expect From the Year of the Ox?

Chinese New Year lanterns

The Lantern Festival – Source: ChineseNewYear.net

 
Chinese New Year falls on February 12th in 2021.  It is usually celebrated by more than 20% of the world and accounts for the largest annual migration as Chinese people head home to be with their families. However, the continuing curse of COVID-19 in China and worldwide means celebrations are unlikely to take place in their usual form, with government officials urging people to stay put this year.

Nevertheless, Chinese New Year remains the most important holiday for Chinese people all over the world. Here are 12 fun facts you may not know…

 

The date changes

The date varies each year, falling between January 21st and February 20th, because the Chinese New Year follows the lunar calendar (based on the movement of the moon.)

 

Every year has a zodiac animal

February 12th 2021 marks the start of the Year of the Ox. In Chinese culture, the Ox is a valued animal, because of its role in agriculture – it symbolises diligence, strength and determination.
 
Year of the Ox

Year of the Ox – Source: China Family of Adventure

 
According to astrologers, Oxen qualities of hard work, positivity and honesty will be widely evident and rewarded, so after a terrible, turbulent 2020, this Year of the Ox will bring ‘career advancement, success in business, prosperity, and wellness for all zodiac signs.’  We certainly hope so!!!
 
The 12 zodiac animals are: monkey, rooster, dog, pig, rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse and sheep.
The animal for the year you were born can allegedly determine your career, health and relationship success! Find your animal sign and its character traits here, with predictions for the coming year.
 
Years of the Ox are 2021, 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961.
Famous people born under this zodiac sign include Barack Obama,  George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Lewis Hamilton and Marcus Rashford.

 

It’s the Spring Festival

Chinese New Year is also the Spring Festival. Although the weather remains wintery, the celebration marks the end of the coldest days. People welcome Spring and new beginnings.

 

A day for praying to gods…

The Spring Festival originally involved ceremonies to pray to gods for a good harvest. (Agriculture is a vital industry in China).

 

…And for fighting beasts!

There are various versions of this story, but legend has it that a monster named Nian would appear every New Year’s Eve and attack villagers. Whilst most people would flee, one year a brave boy scared him off with firecrackers. The next day, people celebrated their survival by setting off firecrackers, and that tradition has remained a major part of New Year celebrations.

 Chinese Firecrackers – Source: Hong Kong Traveller

 

 One of the world’s most celebrated festivals

Chinese New Year is celebrated by more than 20% of the world’s population. As well as mainland China, it is observed in many parts of Asia and in Chinatowns across the globe. Festivities vary, but most centre around family, fireworks and food. New Year is also a time to pay respects to ancestors, and to welcome good fortune for the coming year.
 

Chinese New Year celebrationsChinese New Year Celebrations – Source:K International

 
Celebrations in many parts of the world, including the UK are unlikely to go ahead this year owing to lockdown restrictions.
 

 
One lucky food for New Year celebrations is prawns, which symbolise liveliness, good fortune and happiness because the Chinese word for the crustacean sounds like laughter. Bring some good luck with our delicious recipe for pineappley prawns, inspired by Chinese New Year.
 

 

Mass migration

The most important part of New Year is the family reunion, and as hundreds of millions of Chinese people head home for the celebrations, this causes the world’s largest human migration.

 

The biggest bang

Chinese New Year’s Eve accounts for the largest use of fireworks on the planet. Fireworks are set off to welcome the New Year and bring good luck. Families also burn fake money to honour deceased loved ones.

 

Red is the colour

Most decorations are red (lanterns, paper, chilli peppers etc.) because in Chinese culture, red symbolises happiness, success and prosperity, and is believed to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits.
 
Chinese New Year lanterns

Chinese lanterns – Source: Reader’s Digest

On the 15th day, red lanterns light up houses and roads, as the Lantern Festival marks the end of Chinese New Year celebrations.

 

Lucky for kids

Children are given lucky money in red envelopes or ‘packets’ (digital ones nowadays!), to bring them good fortune and blessings.

 

Everyone gets one year older

In China, you have your real (birth) age, and your nominal age, which increases with the Spring Festival.

 

No showering, sweeping or swearing allowed!

Before the Spring Festival, there’s a day of cleaning – to sweep away bad luck and make room for good luck. Then you’re not allowed to sweep or throw out rubbish until the 5th day, or shower on New Year’s Day, to make sure you don’t get rid of the good luck. Other New Year taboos include use of sharp objects (scissors, knives etc.), breaking things, swearing, fighting or crying, and saying unlucky negative words such as ‘death’, ‘kill’ or ‘sick’.

 

 

Gong hei fat choy!

Happy New Year!

 

 
Sources:
Chinese New Year – ‘21 Things You Didn’t Know About Chinese New Year’
Time – ‘How to Wish Someone a “Happy Lunar New Year” in Chinese’
China Family Adventure
China Highlights – Chinese New Year 
 
 

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