Chinese New Year is an important celebration of the new Lunar Year, and as of February 1, 2022, we are now in the Year of the Tiger.
While most commonly referred to as “Chinese New Year,” the Lunar New Year is an important celebration across East Asia, with celebrations taking place in Korea, China, and Vietnam, as well as in all of the many diaspora communities around the world.
More than one billion people around the world celebrate Lunar New Year, and it is the biggest annual festival in China.
While many large-scale celebrations have been dialed back to the coronavirus, many people will still celebrate in their homes with family and friends this year.
Typical celebrations of Chinese New Year begin weeks before the actual date, with major preparations for the week leading up to the New Year.
People prepare special meals, clean their homes ahead of Chinese New Year
In countries that celebrate Lunar New Year, the week leading up to the day itself is usually a public holiday.
In China, people typically bake special cakes and puddings, called “gao,” ahead of the celebration. The word “gao” also means “tall,” and is thought to help us grow (both literally and figuratively) throughout the New Year.
People often give their homes a thorough cleaning for a fresh start to the New Year in a bid to rid the home of any bad luck. On the eve of Chinese New Year, families get together for a feast full of symbolic dishes — fish, which is associated with wealth; puddings, which are linked to growth; noodles, which symbolize longevity; and dumplings, which resemble pieces of gold.
Family and friends often give each other red envelopes filled with money for good luck in the coming year.
The celebrations aren’t over after the first day of the New Year, however. People traditionally visit relatives to wish them well early in the year, but there are a few rules to follow that can help you ensure prosperity and peace during the New Year, according to ancient Chinese tradition.
Specifically, you shouldn’t get your hair cut on the first day of the New Year, as the character for hair in Chinese is the first character in the word for “prosper,” so cutting your hair is akin to cutting your prosperity.
Additionally, you should avoid visiting loved ones on the third day of the Lunar New Year, as tradition holds that you’re more likely to get in arguments and fight on that particular day.
Wearing red, however, is thought to improve your luck in the coming lunar year.
The festivities are not over until the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, when the Lantern Festival, during which people light beautiful lanterns as a symbol of prosperity, takes place.
Lunar New Year welcomes the Year of the Tiger
Each lunar year is named after one of the twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac, and this year is the Year of the Tiger.
The twelve animals are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. The Chinese zodiac also includes five elements — earth, water, fire, wood, and metal, which are linked to the twelve animals, depending on the year.
So this Lunar New Year is not simply the Year of the Tiger, but of the Water Tiger.
Each animal is associated with different qualities, and the water tiger is linked to confidence, courage, strength, and competitiveness.