By: Sydney Wilks
Here’s five fun facts you may or may not have known about the traditions behind the upcoming Lunar New Year!
Chinese New Year is known through many names. From Lunar New Year to the Spring Festival, this holiday has been bringing in the new year for those of Chinese/Asian descent for centuries.
So, for those of you at home who either don’t know a thing about the Lunar New Year or do know and want to brush up on your knowledge, this list is for you.
- There’s no set date for Lunar New Year
Interesting, right? Since Lunar New Year is celebrated on the last day of winter and welcomes the coming of Spring, the day always changes.
Every year, however, the date falls between January 21st and February 20th. For 2019, the date falls on February 5th.
- It is a day to pray to gods… and fight off monsters
You heard that right, folks. It’s day for praying and monster slaying. Although this may sound far out, the myth behind it is a quite interesting tale and you may recognize a crucial practice to the celebration from said myth.
According to the legend, there was a monster by the name of “Nian” that would come out to wreak havoc every New Year’s Eve.
Most people would hide in their homes, but one brave little boy was courageous enough to fight him off. He did exactly what anybody would do in that situation: light off firecrackers until the monster was scared off.
The next day, the Chinese people celebrated their survival (and the little boy’s bravery) by setting offー you guessed itー more firecrackers. It was then that firecrackers became a crucial (and fun!) part of the celebrations.
- Singles will hire fake boyfriends/girlfriends
Remember those nosy distant relatives that would show up around Christmas time and ask you if you were dating somebody yet? In China, imagine that, but times a hundred.
China is a family centric country and culture, which is the reason why passing down your family’s surname is an honor. Thus leading to the impending “Are you dating anybody yet?” question every new year.
Many desperate single folk will look to hiring a temporary partner for the duration of the new year to escape that question for once. Surprisingly, it is not hard to find somebody to fake it with you, as many Chinese people either cannot or do not want to return home for the new year.
However, as for the in-your-face questions of your financial situation, education, and career path choices, those are all on you. Your rental partner can’t help you out with that, unfortunately.
- Every year has a zodiac animal
Much like the astrological signs set out for the twelve constellation cycles, the Chinese culture has twelve zodiac animals. Except, these last for the duration of the year and change at the start of the new year, rather than every six weeks.
As you may have heard from Shane Dawson, 2019 is the year of the Pig. Some of the zodiac signs, such as Rat, Dog, and Snake, are not as well liked, just like how unlikable some of the astrological signs.
However, as a zodiac, that stigma is looked past, as you are bestowed the positive traits from said sign. These signs can also dictate your career, health, and success in romance. If you’re truly curious, find out which animal coincides with your birth year and search up their traits!
- Everybody decks out in red clothing
As different colors have different meanings in Western culture (i.e. purple meaning royalty), the color red is a highly important color to the Lunar New Year and Chinese culture.
Remember the firecrackers mentioned earlier? Well, that wasn’t the only thing scaring off Nian. The color red was also said to have scared it off also.
Red lanterns, clothing, and money envelopes are said to deflect bad luck and garner the wearers and celebrators good luck for the whole year.
Hopefully with the new year coming up soon, this list gave you a bit of insight into the extensive and deeply cultural history of China. Or you felt like brushing up on your knowledge, who knows.
Either way, the Lunar New Year is a magical experience everybody of any background can celebrate and immerse themselves into Chinese culture for a day.