Say Goodbye to the Year of the Rat and Hello to the Year of the Ox
Chinese Lunar New Year begins February 12th
Sources: China Highlights by Fercility, India Today, USA Today
Lunar New Year – also known as the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival – lasts for 16 days, starting from Chinese New Year’s eve to the Lantern Festival. In 2021, the festival will begin on February 11th and go on till February 26th. ushering in the second animal on the Zodiac (the Ox) with the second new moon after the winter solstice. It will be a Metal Ox year. An Ox year occurs every 12 years. The Chinese New Year was renamed the Spring Festival after China adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1911.
Hong Kong-based Feng Shui master Thierry Chow told CNN that the ox is a hardworking zodiac sign that signifies movement. “So, hopefully, the world will be less static than last year and get moving again in the second half of the year,” she said. She added that the metal element of the year represents an emphasis on metal industries in 2021, from jewelry to “the needle of a syringe.”
Though the occasion is meant to be spent with family and friends, the coronavirus pandemic means that celebrations around the world – from the United States to Britain to China – will look different this year for the 1.5 billion people who observe the occasion. At bus and train stations in China, there is no sign of the annual Lunar New Year rush. The government has called on the public to avoid travel because of new coronavirus outbreaks. The South China Morning Post reported that Hong Kong’s annual Lunar New Year night parade will be replaced by an online shopping event. Despite that, the government says people will make 1.7 billion trips during the holiday, but that is down 40% from 2019.
Vickie Lee, author of the children’s book “Ruby’s Chinese New Year,” told USA TODAY that Lunar New Year is “the most important and the most popular holiday for Chinese people and in the Chinese culture. It’s a very joyful holiday (when) you’re supposed to go home, see your family,” she said. “In China, they celebrate it for two full weeks, and people actually travel home and from far, far away.”
Zhaojin Zeng, a professor of East Asian history at the University of Pittsburgh, compared the occasion to Thanksgiving in America, emphasizing the importance of time spent with family.
Like so many holidays in other cultures, it is centered around food. So there’s several days of preparation where you’re making … symbolic dishes like a whole fish, a whole fish symbolizes prosperity.” Dumplings (symbolizing wealth) will be present, along with noodles (representing longevity). “
The Lunar New Year is a chance to start fresh, see loved ones and share in the hope of good things to come. People clean their houses; decorate their doors using red posters with poetic verses, red lanterns, etc. to welcome the Spring Festival. People get together with their families at this time of the year to celebrate the festival. During the Spring Festival Eve, there are fireworks and firecrackers in order to bring good luck. Many people wear new clothes and share Chinese New Year greetings with their loved ones.
The Spring Festival is a national holiday in China. During the period from the Spring Festival Eve to the seventh day of the first lunar month in the Chinese calendar, government offices, schools, universities, and many companies stay closed. However, some important institutions like banks stay open with employees working on shifts.
Chinese New Year celebrations like beating drums and striking gongs, as well as dragon and lion dances, are organized during the Spring Festival festivities.