Unlike the Gregorian new year, with a fixed date, the lunar new year is celebrated on the first new moon, between 21 January and 20 February, so varies accordingly.
The celebrations typically last 15 days until the Lantern Festival, whereby thousands of glowing paper lanterns are released into the sky or hung from doors. The glowing lanterns celebrate the full moon and usher in a bright future. And the golden colour symbolises wealth and prosperity.
2020 the year of the rat
The Rat is the first of a 12-year cycle of animals, which appear in the Chinese Zodiac. Others include: Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig.
If you’re lucky enough to be born in a year of the rat, you’re said to be very industrious, thrifty, diligent and positive. And you share your zodiac symbol with such luminaries as: William Shakespeare, Prince Charles, Galileo and T.S. Elliot.
Customs and traditions
Originally the festival was held to scare off a monster called Nian, but also honoured deities and ancestors. Now it’s used for families to get together for a reunion dinner.
Some use the occasion to spring clean their houses to sweep away any ill-fortune, others use it to decorate their house, often in red to symbolise happiness, wealth and longevity.
Many people will buy themselves or loved ones new clothes, and children will sometimes receive red envelopes with money from older relatives. Although, thanks to technology there’s been a massive rise in digital envelopes through email and apps.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a new year celebration without fireworks, and the Chinese New Year is no exception. In fact, it’s the largest use of fireworks throughout the year, anywhere in the world. So, don't forget to watch out for those pets, who may get a little anxious.
Xin nian hao (Happy New Year)
When wishing someone happy new year, you may have heard people say ‘Gong hei fat choy’. Whilst it is appropriate at this time of year, it actually wishes a prosperous new year.
If you’re celebrating this new year, don’t forget we’ve got loads of cashback for all your party treats. But even if you’re not, it’s a great excuse to use your tastecard and experience some new flavours from around the world, at hundreds of participating restaurants.
Xin nian kuai le