Chinese New Year 2020 falls on Saturday 25th January. It takes place on a different date every year because it follows the Lunar calendar. It’s a huge deal for those that recognise it and there are many fascinating superstitions associated with the celebration itself and the following zodiac year.
According to the Chinese zodiac, 2020 is the Year of the Rat. There are 12 different animals in the Chinese zodiac, and each person born under that sign is said to have their own personality, stories and superstitions.
Chinese New Year traditions
Many traditions associated with Chinese New Year haven’t changed in centuries. From tasty food and fireworks displays to ancient myths and awesome gifts, here are 5 facts about Chinese New Year:
More fireworks are set off on Chinese New Year than any other day of the year worldwide. Just like in the west, you can expect huge, colourful displays to start the new year with a bang.
Pub quiz factoid: The practice of setting off fireworks was originally meant to drive off evil and scare away monsters.
In the red
Most children are given red envelopes or packets filled with cash on New Year’s Day instead of toys or other gifts. They are called hongbao in Mandarin and lai see in Cantonese. As the colour red has symbolic value, the envelopes are a way to send good wishes as well as the gift of money.
Read about red: The colour red is especially important during New Year, signifying good luck and protection against illness and evil spirits. Wrapping lucky money in red envelopes is expected to bestow more happiness and blessings on the receivers. Hence, it is impolite to open a red envelope in front of the person who gives it to you.
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The Chinese celebrate the New Year by drinking lots of wine (no complaints here). Everyone in the family will have at least a sip – even the youngsters.
Booze news: There are special Chinese wines just for New Year, like ‘Tusu’ – which was originally a medicine. A snifter of this ensures good health for the coming year.
Doughy dumplings are said to represent wealth and are traditionally eaten on Chinese New Year because they look like nuggets of gold. The filling usually includes minced pork and chopped veg.
Interesting fact: Dumplings are mostly eaten in northern China – in the south, preferred Chinese New Year foods include spring rolls and ‘Nian gao’ – sweet and sticky rice cakes.
Keep it (un)clean
A quirkier tradition is that you are not meant to clean the house on Chinese New Year’s Day. Technically this only relates to sweeping – as you could ‘sweep your luck away’ for the coming year but better to play it safe.
It’s wash you know: Along with sweeping, washing your hair on New Year’s Day could wash your luck away, so you’d better keep a hat handy.
What’s your Chinese Zodiac Sign?
Twelve animals make up the Chinese Zodiac and each year corresponds to one of the animals. 2020 is the year of the Rat, which is also the first sign in the sequence.
The story behind the zodiac says that the Jade Emperor chose 12 animals to serve as his royal guards and the animals fought and raced to be first in line – deciding the order of the zodiac.
So, which of the Chinese New Year animals are you?
You are the Rat if you were born in:
1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020.
Quick-witted, creative, optimistic and energetic. Though sometimes prone to hoarding money or objects that others may consider worthless, they’re liked by everyone.
Lucky numbers: 2, 3
You are the Ox if you were born in:
1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009.
Reliable, honest and hard working. Oxen prefer to get on with things, seeking neither praise, nor attention. Sometimes their talents are hidden by their humility, but their hard work and level-headedness will bring them the success they deserve.
Lucky numbers: 9, 1
You are the Tiger if you were born in:
1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010.
Brave and adventurous, tigers will face challenges head on regardless of the risk. Full of energy and emotion, they can be difficult to control – but they will never give up when confronted with a problem.
Lucky numbers: 1, 3, 4
You are the Rabbit if you were born in:
1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011.
Kind and polite, the rabbit treats everyone with courtesy and expects the same back. Sometimes mistaken for weak, they are quietly confident, with hidden reserves of strength.
Lucky numbers: 3, 4, 9
You are the Dragon if you were born in:
1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012.
Fiercely independent and strong, Dragons often make great leaders and entrepreneurs. Though they can survive alone due to their independence, they still crave love and support.
Lucky numbers: 2, 8, 9
You are the Snake if you were born in:
1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013.
Intelligent and witty, the snake is a deep thinker who avoids gossip and pointless chatter. Though calm under pressure, the snake can sometimes bottle their emotions too tightly.
You are the Horse if you were born in:
1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014.
Energetic and free-spirited, the horse chases their dreams. They seek only happiness and are unconcerned by money or fame. Horses can be frustrated by those who don’t think the same way or try to rein them in.
Lucky numbers: 2,3,7
You are the Sheep (Goat, Ram) if you were born in:
1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015.
Though generous and loving, the sheep is known for their determination and perseverance. When confronting a problem, they will consider every detail before acting and are just as attentive in their personal relationships.
Lucky numbers: 3, 4, 9
You are the Monkey if you were born in:
1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016.
Intelligent and talented, the monkey can achieve anything they set their mind to. This self-belief can lead to arrogance or over competitiveness – but if they can engage their sense of humour, the sky is the limit.
Lucky numbers: 1, 7, 8
You are the Rooster if you were born in:
1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017.
Strong and decisive, a rooster’s downfall is that they can get into arguments because of their readiness to criticize and their own tempestuous temper. Deep down, they yearn for validation from their family and loved ones.
Lucky numbers: 5, 7, 8
You are the Dog if you were born in:
1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018.
Defined by their loyalty, the Dog will do anything for their friends, family and colleagues. Their honesty and willingness to help others means they are always popular. Their outgoing nature can hide their own anxieties, but they aren’t often held back by this.
Lucky numbers: 3, 4, 9
You are the Pig if you were born in:
1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019.
Calm and good natured, the Pig is a gentle spirit who remains optimistic even when faced by tasks they might not enjoy. They can be a little materialistic, but they are honest about the things they enjoy in life – favouring action over words.
Lucky numbers: 2, 5, 8
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