Year of the Pig: What You Need to Know About Chinese New Year

What is Chinese New Year?

The Chinese New Year (also known as the Lunar New Year and Spring Festival) is China’s most important holiday. Because China’s lunar calendar is based on the new moon that appears between January 21–February 20, the actual date of Chinese New Year varies from year to year. Public celebrations are observed this year between February 4–10 and mark “The Year of the Pig”.

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Why is it the year of the Pig?

For Chinese people, astrology and the Chinese zodiac have traditionally been quite important and are represented by a repeating cycle of 12 years, with each year being represented by an animal and its reputed attributes. The personality traits of the zodiac animal “Pig” are all good traits such as compassionate, generous and diligent.

Spring Lantern Festival in Hong Kong
Hong Kong—January 31, 2019: Spring Lantern Festival decoration in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong. Decorations are appearing all over the city to celebrate for Chinese New Year.

How is this holiday celebrated?

The Chinese New Year is celebrated throughout China in 4 main ways. Since red is perceived as auspicious color, it is used as the main color for New Year’s decorations and can be seen everywhere in the streets from business buildings to homes. As 2019 will be a year of the Pig, decorations with images of pigs will be commonly seen such as red pig dolls for children and New Year paintings with pigs.

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Spending time with family is also a huge part of the Chinese New Year tradition. On New Year’s Eve, families gather together for the most important meal of the year called the ‘reunion dinner’ and after dinner, normally sit together to watch the Spring Festival Gala, one of the most watched TV shows in China.

Firecrackers and fireworks also set the stage for the beginning of the Chinese New Year! From public venues to private celebrations, setting off firecrackers and fireworks begins the first minute of the New Year and is thought to scare away evil and bring good luck.

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Iconic red envelopes with money in them and gifts are also passed around to spread good luck to children and retirees. Working adults traditionally only received the lucky red envelopes with money through their employers. However, don’t give gifts with unlucky meanings, words, or numbers as that would bring bad luck.

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