And so we have welcomed 2021 with the hope for something better and healthier for all of us! The next big celebration in the calendar is Chinese New Year (CNY) or also known as the Spring Festival. So what do we, specially the non-Chinese population and non-Chinese New Year Celebrators know about it, save for the fact that we usually are gifted with Tikoy and Dragon Fireworks became popular because of it? Here are the top five things you need to know about CNY 2021–the Year of the Ox!
1., Guo Nian Hao” is how you greet others during Chinese New Year
This is like the westerners saying “Merry Christmas” to each other on Christmas Day. It means “Happy New Year”. “Nian”is the Chinese word for year. In folk culture, the Spring Festival celebration is also called “Guo Nian” (meaning “passing a year”). The origin of the festival is also interesting. It was said there was a fierce monster called ‘Nian’ and it would appear every 365 days or 366 days to eat humans. As time goes by, people found that it always came at night- but can be driven away by the color red and the sound of firecrackers. Therefore, the celebration of CNY is also called ‘Guo Nian’, which means defeating the monster Nian.
2. Every year has a zodiac animal
Western horoscopes include 12 zodiacs, one for each month. There are 12 Chinese zodiacs as well, but the animal is for the entire year. They are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. Your animal can decide your career, health and relationship success. Your “benming year” is the year of your zodiac animal. And of the 12 year cycle, it is unluckiest for you. The Chinese believe that children can easily be taken by demons. And your “benming year” is your rebirth year.
3. Red envelopes
An old custom in Chinese New Year is the red envelope, with lucky money inside, which are sent by elders to the young generation. The red envelopes represent happiness and good luck. In recent years, with the brisk rise in popularity of the internet, more people have sent red envelopes, digitally. In CNY 2018, there have been more than 600 million people who sent out digital red envelopes via Ali Pay and WeChat.
4. It is the longest Chinese holiday
CNY is technically 15 days. But celebrations start on New Year’s Eve (making it 16 days). During the holiday, Chinese people spend twice as much on shopping and eating out than Americans spend on Thanksgiving. CNY also causes the largest human migration in the world because its most important component is the family reunion where everyone should come back home for New Year’s Eve dinner.
5. No showering, sweeping or throwing out garbage
Showering isn’t allowed on Chinese New Year. Sweeping and throwing out garbage isn’t allowed before the 5th. This is to make sure you don’t wash away the good luck! Other no no’s during CNY are: no cutting of hair; using scissors, knives and other sharp things; arguing and swearing; saying unlucky words (such as “death” and “sickness”) and breaking things.
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