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A Bit About Lunar New Year

In answer to some common questions that I've seen crop up around Lunar New Year I put together some quick answers!

When it is celebrated? Lunar New Year begins with the first new moon of the lunar calendar which is based on cycles of the moon. This means that it can fall anytime from the end of January to the end of February.

How do people celebrate Lunar New Year? In the lead up to the new year houses are prepared (think of what happens in the weeks before Christmas, if you have family coming suddenly your house is immaculate!) and they are cleaned as a way to remove any bad spirits.

On New Year's Eve and New Year's Day most people spend time with their families paying tribute to their ancestors. On New Year's Day family members gift red envelopes with small quantities of money.

During Lunar New Year there are fireworks and other traditional celebrations such as dancing and festivals. The celebrations last around 15 days, until the first full moon, at which point a Lantern Festival is held, known as the Yuan Xiao Festival. This event honors deceased ancestors and promotes peace. This year this event will be celebrated on 26 February 2021.

Why are the years named after animals? The Chinese zodiac (known in this case as the Chinese Zodiac as this is where it originated) is a cycle of 12 animals that are based on the lunar calendar. The Lunar Calendar is a 12-year cycle based on the 11.85 year orbital period of Jupiter. The cycle starts with the year of the Rat, which means we have just completed the first year of the new cycle.

Each animal represents an element and has different characteristics that are said to influence a persons life. For example someone born in the year of the dragon is said to be intense, powerful and capable of being a great leader. They are also capable of being vindictive and selfish.

The twelve zodiac signs are:

  • Rat (Water)

  • Ox (Earth)

  • Tiger (Wood)

  • Rabbit (Wood)

  • Dragon (Earth)

  • Snake (Fire)

  • Horse (Fire)

  • Goat (Earth)

  • Monkey (Metal)

  • Rooster (Metal)

  • Dog (Earth)

  • Pig (Water)

Happy Lunar New Year 2021!

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