Celebrating the Chinese New Year in 2020
Welcome, Year of the Rat! Are you planning to celebrate the Chinese New Year in 2020? If so, what should you do during the festivities?
The Chinese New Year, sometimes known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival – although they’re not exactly the same – is an essential celebration in Chinese culture. It marks the departure of old energy and the arrival of re-energized life. It’s a time for enjoying rest from labor and basking in the love of family. If you’re planning on establishing personal rituals this year, learn about the traditions practiced throughout the ages.
Chinese New Year Traditions
This year, the lunar new year officially kicks off on January 25th and lasts through February 4th. Each new lunar year represents a new animal sign based on the 12-year Chinese Zodiac, an attribute many other cultures incorporate into their own. This year marks the Year of the Rat, the first in the cycle.
Many businesses shut down during this time to allow people to travel to visit their friends and relatives. Feasts and festivals abound, as well.
One of the most vital traditions practiced during this time is the Lantern Festival. This year, the event is on February 8th. This tradition started more than 2,000 years ago and has evolved over time, but activities include lighting lanterns, moon gazing, eating rice balls and more.
Different nights of the Spring Festival to honor Lunar New Year involve various tasks. For example, it’s appropriate to visit your father’s side of the family on the first day, then your mother’s side the next.
Fireworks make up a sizeable portion of the Chinese New Year celebration, too. It’s crucial to leave massive displays to the professionals for safety’s sake. If you honor personal traditions with store-bought sparklers, make sure to keep water nearby and don’t allow children near flames.
If you find yourself in China during this celebration, be sure to pay a visit to Longhua Temple, which was built in 242 AD and is the largest in Shanghai. You can take part in the bell-ringing ceremony to ring in the new year.
Chinese New Year Superstitions
When you celebrate the Lunar New Year, you need to know what to avoid as well as what to do. Consider these superstitions associated with the Chinese New Year. If you don’t want a lifetime of bad luck, give these activities a hard pass:
- Medicine: According to folklore, taking any medication on the first day of the lunar new year will ensure you get sick in the coming months. No, thank you!
- Cleaning and laundry: While you do want to clean before the new year to clean out old spirits, doing so on the first day of the new year sweeps away your good fortune. The first two days honor the water god, so leave your dirty socks in the hamper.
- Sharp objects: If you’re serving up a roast instead of moo goo gai pan, carve it the night before. Any accidents associated with sharp objects will bleed away your wealth in the new year.
- Damaged clothing: It’s time to break out your best finery. Wearing worn or tattered clothing during the Chinese New Year brings bad luck.
Celebrating the Traditions of the Chinese New Year
Now that you know more about some of these Chinese New Year traditions and beliefs, why not get in on the celebration this January? Whether you’re traveling or trying new traditions at home, this is the perfect time for new beginnings. Happy Year of the Rat!
Alyssa Abel is an education blogger with a special interest in study abroad, language learning and cultural education. Read more of her work for students and educators on her blog, Syllabusy, connect with her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.