Our resident Chinese New Year expert is enjoying (well not really enjoying as she has appointments to attend) a day off work today, but we have enjoyed researching the Lunar New Year in her absence. It turns out it is the longest and most important holiday in the Chinese calendar. It lasts for 2 weeks and China experiences the worlds highest levels of migration during this time as everyone returns home to celebrate with their families.
Chinese New Year is based on the ancient Chinese lunar calendar and it falls on the second new moon after winter solstice . This is sometime between 21st January and 19th February & so changes from year to year. Our local city hall made a bit of a mistake this year & illuminated the hall for Chinese New Year on last years date, 31st January - oops!!
Kate had already explained to us there is some confusion over whether this year is the year of the goat, sheep or even ram. The confusion stems from the Chinese character “yang”, which can translate in colloquial Chinese as either sheep or goat. She told us that most prefer it to be a goat as sheep are seen to be weaker animals.
People born in the years 1919, 1931, 1943, 1967, 1979, 1991 or 2003 are goats and their lucky colours are brown, red and purple. They are supposedly kind and peaceable of nature with their best months being August & November. Their lucky flowers are primroses and carnations.
Kate also informed us of some of the traditions associated with Chinese New Year, such as cleaning/decorating the house, wearing red underwear and visiting family. Celebrations tend to involve meals, parades, fireworks, dragon dances and gift exchanges.
We noticed quite a few gift baskets being ordered for the celebration, with the most popular choices including fresh fruit, fish or non-alcoholic goodies.