Today (Friday February 12th 2021) marks the Chinese New Year and is the beginning of the year of the Ox. Determined by the Lunar Calendar, the holiday falls on different dates each year (between January 21st and February 20th) and is a time for families to come together to celebrate new beginnings and is also a week-long public holiday in China!
Here are 9 unique facts about Chinese New Year!
¼ OF THE WORLD’S POPULATION CELEBRATE
With almost 7.8 billion people on the planet, and over 2 billion celebrating the New Year, it has become the most celebrated event in the world.
NEW YEAR, NEW ANIMAL
Each Chinese New Year starts a new animal’s zodiac year too! There are 12 animals in total: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.
Your birth year determines your zodiac animal (mine’s the rat) – why not check out which is yours here.
Traditionally, red envelopes with money inside are sent by elders to the younger generations. It is said that these envelopes represent happiness, prosperity, and good luck. Today, many red envelopes are sent digitally – with over 600 million sent online in 2018!
Chinese New Year has a very interesting origin. Legend has it that there was once a fierce monster called Nian who would appear once a year to fight, kill and eat humans. As time passed, locals discovered that Nian only ever came at night, was afraid of the colour red and the sound of loud noises. And so, to drive away the horrid monster, people set off firecrackers, dressed in red and began to hang red decorations around their towns and villages. Over time this developed into what we know today as the Chinese New Year – or Guo Nian; ‘defeating the monster Nian’.
In fact, no washing or cleaning either. All sweeping, cleaning and washing must be finished before New Year’s Eve as it was thought that if you swept on New Year’s Day you’d sweep all the wealth and fortune out of your house! In some areas of China, people will not sweep until the fourth day of the New Year!
One of the biggest feasts over the Chinese New Year is the Reunion Dinner on Chinese New Year’s Eve. This feast is believed to be the most important time to be with loved ones, and so families gather together to commemorate the year that’s come to an end. After the Reunion Dinner has finished, families often sit together to watch the CCTV New Year’s Gala which has become the most watched TV Program throughout the Chinese New Year.
LARGEST USE OF FIREWORKS
With almost every family setting off fireworks to celebrate the festival, Chinese New Year uses the largest amount of fireworks anywhere on the planet!
The most traditional and famous food to be consumed throughout the New Year are dumplings. On New Year’s Eve, coins will be hidden inside the dumplings, and whoever eats the dumpling with the lucky coin inside is said to receive the best luck for the upcoming year.
WORLD’S LARGEST MIGRATION
It’s estimated that there are over 3.5 billion journeys made within China (and millions travelling in other countries too) over the New Year, making it the largest annual migration of humans on the planet!
Happy Lunar New Year!