Chinese lanterns

Chinese New Year – Discover the Year of the Rabbit 

Sunday 22 January marked the start of Chinese New Year with celebrations held across the world including many in Edinburgh.

An annual celebration of happiness, joy and new beginnings also called the Spring Festival, how much do you know about it? Or why this year, is the year of the rabbit?

In this quick guide we hope to give you a brief, but interesting rundown of this, one of the most important holidays in the Chinese calendar!

The date

Chinese New Year never falls on the same date. 

It begins with the new moon that occurs between January 21 and February 20 and lasts for 15 days until the following full moon. 

Because it follows the phases of the moon it is sometimes called the Lunar New Year. It culminates with the Lantern Festival. 

A new animal

The Chinese calendar works on a 12-year cycle with each year marked by a different animal. This is based on an ancient tale which tells of a Jade emperor who invited all the worlds animals to take part in race. 

Twelve turned up; dog, goat, rooster, monkey, sheep, horse, snake, dragon, rabbit, tiger, ox and rat.

As a reward, the Emperor named a year in the zodiac after each, while the race determined the order they would be placed. 

It is thought that depending on the year you are born you bear some of the characteristics of that animal.

Popular customs and traditions

As with any major holiday celebrated, Chinese New Year comes with traditional customs that people and their families follow. Much of these are based around attracting good luck and avoiding bad luck in the year ahead.

These include cleaning and organising your house to rid yourself of ill-fortune, the decoration of windows and doors with red Chinese paper cuttings and poetry, lighting firecrackers and giving money in red envelopes. 

Other activities are to eat a reunion dinner with family on Lunar New Year’s Eve with dishes including fish and dumplings.

Discover more here.

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