Embrace your inner rat this Chinese New Year

This Chinese New Year celebrated the year of the rat and China’s most important holiday, according to History.com.

Chinese New Year is widely revered, with over 20% of the world welcoming new beginnings and fresh starts by celebrating the holiday, according to chinesenewyear.net. This website includes articles about Chinese New Year traditions, festivities and zodiac animals. Also known as the Spring Festival, Chinese New Year marks the end of the coldest days and welcomes spring harvests. This year’s Chinese New Year was celebrated on Jan. 25.

Festival-goers celebrate Chinese New Year in London, UK. Photo courtesy of chinesenewyear.net.

The holiday traditionally functioned as a time to honor chinese gods and ancestors. Chinese people would pray to the gods for a good harvest season. The ancient lunar calendar, which Chinese New Year is based upon, served as a social and religious guide. Chinese New Year usually begins with the new moon at the end of January and is celebrated until the full moon in February.

“Oracle bones inscribed with astronomical records indicate that the calendar existed as early as 14th century B.C., when the Shang Dynasty was in power,” a History article stated.

2020 is the Chinese year of the rat, one of the 12 zodiac animals. The rat is the first zodiac animal and represents the beginning of a new day, according to chinesenewyear.net. Rats are seen as signs of wealth and surplus in Chinese culture, and are prayed to by married couples for children.

An important aspect of Chinese New Year is the reunion with family, according to chinesenewyear.net. Feasting with family is another symbolic aspect of the holiday. This tradition causes the largest amount of travel in the world.

“In 2015, statistics showed that around 1,000 [plane] tickets were sold each second,” a Chinese New Year article stated.

Red decorations, such as lanterns, strings of chili peppers and paper coverings, along with clothing, help to bring luck in the new year. Photo courtesy of chinesenewyear.net.
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Throughout the New Year celebration, red becomes the color of choice. Red lanterns, strings of chili pepper and paper cover doors, windows and most homes. In Chinese culture, red clothing is purchased and worn for luck.

A popular tradition on Chinese New Year is lighting fireworks. A Chinese myth tells the story of a little boy who fought off a monster using firecrackers. Those who celebrate stay up on New Year’s Eve and set off firecrackers that night and again in the morning for good luck. Chinese families also burn fake money and paper gold bars as a way to honor loved ones who’ve passed away, according to chinesenewyear.net.

The end of Chinese New Year is marked by a lantern festival, filled with vibrant lanterns varying in style and size. Photo courtesy of chinesenewyear.net.

The end of Chinese New Year is marked by a lantern festival. Many lantern festivals are held all over China during the New Year. The activities at the festival include moon gazing, riddles, dances and lantern lighting. In ancient China, women weren’t allowed out of the house to walk around by themselves, according to chinesenewyear.net. However, they were allowed to walk around freely, play games and socialize with men. Although this is no longer the case, the event is still considered to be very romantic.

“The wild and romantic stories are why some say the Lantern Festival is the true Chinese Valentine’s Day,” a Chinese New Year article stated.

The festival celebrates the most important parts of the Chinese New Year: family and society, along with religious traditions. Hundreds of lanterns are released into the sky varying in style and size. One famous lantern variation is the Kongming lantern, which represents hope, success and happiness. Vibrant and unique versions of lanterns are either made or purchased to be used during the festival.

Chinese New Year is filled with unique traditions and festivals that celebrate the new year.