There are many interesting traditions associated with the celebration of the Chinese New Year. Why not take advantage of the good luck that can come from participating in a holiday celebrated by millions?
Chinese New Year Has Been Happening for Thousands of Years
It is believed that the New Year celebration began during Emperor Yao and Shun’s reign which was around 2300 BC. The mythology was a monster called Nian would appear at the end of each winter to ravage China and kill its people. The people used bright lights, loud noises and the color red to scare the monster away. The Chinese invented fireworks in the 12th century, possibly for use in this celebration to scare Nian away.
One Sixth of the World’s Population Celebrates Chinese New Year
This celebration isn’t just for those on the Chinese mainland. Taiwan and Singapore have large celebrations, and San Francisco holds the largest Chinese New Year celebration outside of China. The California Gold Rush of 1849 brought many Chinese immigrants into the U.S. to work on the railroads. Eager to share their culture with other Californians, these immigrants adopted the American tradition of a parade for their New Year. Over a million people attend San Francisco’s parade every year.
The Largest Human Migration in the World
It is a tradition to spend the Chinese New Year with your family, and as most working-class youngsters live in the cities and parents in rural villages, there is an epic migration during this holiday season. To give you an idea of the scope of the migration in 2015 1000 train tickets were sold every second!
Money is Given to Children
Elders give youngsters red envelopes filled with money to bring more happiness and good fortune. It isn’t actually the amount of money given as the act of giving itself that symbolizes good luck. Some believe if the children sleep with the envelopes under their pillows for seven days before opening them, the gift will be even luckier. Some parents slip the envelopes, always red, under the children’s pillows while they sleep, just like the western tooth fairy.
Housecleaning for Good Luck
One week before New Year’s Eve participants rigorously clean their homes. This tidying up is symbolic of starting over in the New Year and sweeping away the evil spirits or bad luck associated with the previous year is never a bad thing. There is no showering, sweeping or throwing out garbage for the first five days of the festival to insure you don’t throw out or wash away your good luck. Hair salons also get extra time off during this celebration as hair cutting is considered taboo.
2020 is The Year of the Rat
Chinese New Year in 2020 is January 25. The date changes as it follows the second new moon after the winter solstice or somewhere between January 21 and February 19. There are twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac and you would think the rat would be an undesirable sign to have. According to ancient folklore, the order of the zodiacs was set by the Jade Emperor orchestrating an animal race across a river. The rat was the most clever as it finished first because it rode on the naïve ox’s back. The ox came in second, the powerful tiger third. The rabbit jumped on rocks to avoid the water, and on and on until the pig finishes last because it stopped to take a nap.
Chinese New Year Ending Lantern Festival
After the fifteen days of this holiday, elaborate paper lanterns are released into the sky. It is a chance to symbolically let go of your old self and become a new person. Who doesn’t want that opportunity?