12th February 2021 by

Year of the Ox – Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year – Year of the Ox – officially begins on 12 February 2021, and ends on 22 February

The Chinese New Year is popularly known as the Spring Festival in China because it starts from the Beginning of Spring (the first of the twenty-four terms in coordination with the changes of Nature) and marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. The Spring Festival marks a new year on the lunar calendar and represents the desire for a new life.

This year is the Year of the Ox. The Ox is the second of all zodiac animals. According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which the animals arrived to his party. The Ox was about to be the first to arrive, but Rat tricked Ox into giving him a ride. Then, just as they arrived, Rat jumped down and landed ahead of Ox. Thus, Ox became the second animal. In Chinese culture, the Ox is a valued animal. Because of its role in agriculture, positive characteristics, such as being hardworking and honest, are attributed to it.

The main Chinese New Year activities include 1) putting up decorations, 2) eating reunion dinner with family on New Year’s Eve, 3) firecrackers and fireworks and 4) giving red envelopes and other gifts.

Putting up decorations
Every street, building and house where Spring Festival is celebrated is decorated with red. Red is the main colour for the festival, as it is believed to be an auspicious colour. Red Chinese lanterns hang in streets; red couplets are pasted on doors; banks and official buildings are decorated with red New Year pictures depicting images of prosperity.

Reunion dinner  
Chinese New Year (Lunar New Year) is a time for families to be together, with Chinese New Year’s Eve being a most important time. Wherever they are, people are expected to be home to celebrate the festival with their families. The Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner, called ‘reunion dinner’, is often considered the most important get-together meal of the entire year.

Firecrackers and fireworks
It has long been a Chinese tradition to set off firecrackers from the first minute of their new year. Fireworks have increasingly been added to the cacophony. From public displays in major cities to millions of private celebrations in China’s rural areas, setting off firecrackers and fireworks is an indispensable festivity.

Red envelopes
Like at Christmas in other countries, people exchange gifts during the Spring Festival. In rural areas and for older people the New Year gift-giving tradition is still strong, but increasingly younger people prefer just to receive red envelopes (by hand or electronically). Red envelopes have money in, and are believed to bring good luck because they are red.


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