With the Lunar New Year quickly approaching, countries all over the world are ready to celebrate the Year of the Rat. Chinese New Year, or Lunar New Year, is a Chinese festival that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar, which is a lunisolar calendar that is different from Modern Day China’s use of the Gregorian calendar. The festival begins being observed from the evening preceding the first day of the year to the Lantern Festival, held on the 15th day of the year. The first day of Chinese New Year begins on January 25th this year, initiating the Year of the Rat. We here at Amodrn wanted to give you a rundown of the festivities, so you’ve got the 101 on traditions, food, and more if you want more education on the topic or if you’d like to celebrate yourself. Keep reading for more!
How Did Lunar New Year Begin?
Lunar New Year began with a story about a mythical beast called the Nian during the annual Spring Festival. The monster was treacherous and would eat children and townspeople during the night. One night, an old man named Yanhuang appeared before the villagers. The old man said he would get revenge on the Nian. He put red papers up and set off firecrackers and disappeared into the night. The day after, the villagers saw that nothing had been touched in their town. They were safe. They knew that the old man was a deity who came to save them. Yanhuang knew the Nian was afraid of the red and loud noises. The tradition continued whenever the New Year was approaching. Villagers would wear red clothes, hang red lanterns, and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. Eventually, the beast was captured by an ancient Taoist monk.
Since then, according to old Chinese documents, the Lunar New Year has marked the beginning of the era, where people celebrate the harvest of the New Year, and a chance to start fresh.
The Meaning Behind The Year Of The Rat
According to the San Francisco Examiner, the Rat is “the first of all zodiac animals. According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived at his party. The Rat tricked the Ox into giving him a ride. Then, just as they arrived at the finish line, Rat jumped down and landed ahead of Ox, becoming first. The Rat is also associated with the Earthly Branch and the midnight hours. In terms of yin and yang, the Rat is yang and represents the beginning of a new day.”
In Chinese culture, rats are seen as a sign of money and great riches. Because of the many, many children they have, couples pray to them for fertility.
What To Wear
According to ChineseNewYear.Net, tradition says that beautiful new garments are required to pay respect to elders in the community. This is a time of change, so new clothing protects you against evil spirits and gives you good luck. For more suggestions, visit here for an incredible breakdown of traditional garments.
What To Eat
With any holiday comes, our craving for traditional, once-a-year kind of dishes and Lunar New Year is never off. Tradition Lunar New Year cuisine include the following. For more suggestions, visit here for delicious in-depth breakdowns of dishes.
- Steamed Chicken
- Steamed Fish
- Rice cakes
- Vegetable dishes
- Hot pot
The red pocket or red envelope is quite literally “money to anchor the year” It is also known as “lucky money” or “New Year’s money.” These are given to children by elders who hope to pass on good fortune, blessings, and more. It can also be the other way around, as a showing of gratitude to elders from children. Traditionally, you can say “恭喜发财，红包拿来” or “gong xǐ fā cái, hóng bāo ná lái”. It means “wishing you wealth and prosperity, hand over the red envelope.” For more on the tradition of the red envelope, click here.
We hope you enjoy your Lunar New Year! If travel is in your future, click here to learn more about the app that can offset your carbon footprint.