The Year of the Rat begins on the 25th January 2020 and since starting preschool, infant and junior school, my children have been involved with Chinese New Year activiites. This revealed how shockingly poor my own knowledge is of Chinese New Year and traditions so I thought I would find out more and share with you!
The Chinese calendar follows the lunar and solar cycles so the year does not start on the same day of January each year, sometimes being at late as mid February. Most years have 12 months but some have 13 and they are based on the lunar cycle.
Years are named according to the zodiac cycle of animals with the concept that people born in that year will have the attributes of that animal. I was born in the Year of the Rooster, Matthew: Tiger, Anya: Dragon, Zach: Monkey, Chris: Rabbit. Hmmmm, no comment on Anya’s but sounds pretty accurate…
This is further developed by adding in the 5 elements of metal, wood, fire, earth, and water. Apparently I am a gold rooster so am determined with epic perseverance but also brave and hardworking (5 jobs, moi?!)
The primary tradiition associated with the New Year is a family meal. Deceased family members are also given respect at this time. Fireworks are used to chase away evil and the colour red performs the same function.
My children have made red money envelopes as part of their activities: these are traditionally given to children with a few coins in to promote prosperity for the year ahead. Cleaning and work should be stopped for the celebrations so there is usually a flurry of activity to get the workplace and home ready for a short break.
The fifteenth day after the new year, the first full moon of the year is celebrated with lanterns and celebrates the end of the new year celebrations.
Do you know which zodiac animal represent the year you were born? Are you due a baby this year?