Friday, May 27 2022

With its food, acrobatic parades and fireworks, Chinese New Year is a fantastic time to get a taste of Chinese culture

Chinese New Year kicks off in a few weeks (Image: Shutterstock)

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The celebration is a major event, not only in China and Southeast Asia in general, but around the world, including in London.

Marking the start of another lunar year, the event is a time of food, acrobatic parades and fireworks – and is also a great opportunity to sample the delights of Chinese culture.

So when will Chinese New Year 2022 fall, what animal will this year be – and what activities traditionally take place during the celebration?

Here’s what you need to know.

Chinatown and Trafalgar Square in London are usually the focus of Chinese New Year celebrations in the UK (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

When is Chinese New Year?

Chinese New Year will be on Tuesday, February 1, 2022.

The previous lunar year runs from February 12, 2021 and ends on Monday, January 31, 2022.

Timings differ from when we mark the New Year here in the UK because China traditionally follows the lunar calendar, while we follow a solar calendar.

Solar calendars are based on the passage of the earth around the sun and are in common and legal use throughout the world.

(graphic: Mark Hall/NationalWorld)

The lunar calendar bases its schedules on the different phases of the moon.

This means that months tend to be 29 or 30 days long, while years are 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar calendar.

Although this calendar may seem like a foreign concept, most cultures around the world have used lunar calendars at some point in their history.

Even the Gregorian calendar, which was introduced to Europe nearly 450 years ago, has its origins in the lunar cycle.

Parades celebrating Chinese culture often take place around the world during Chinese New Year (Image: Getty Images)

What animal will it be?

Each new year marks the introduction of another new Chinese zodiac animal and its attributes.

This system would have been installed at a time when animal worship was practiced in China.

It has been around for 2,000 years and remains central to Chinese culture, with people using it to determine their fortune for the year and even who they should marry.

It is unclear how big celebrations will be able to take place this year because of Covid (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

There are 12 animals in all: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

2022 will be the year of the tiger.

This means that people born in this year will share the characteristics of the tiger.

  • Vigor and ambition
  • Audacity and courage
  • Enthusiasm and generosity
  • Self-confidence
  • A sense of justice and a commitment to helping others for the greater good

How is Chinese New Year marked?

In China, there are four main elements of New Year’s festivities:

  • Little year: takes place one week before the Chinese New Year and is a day of remembrance and prayer
  • New Year’s Eve: a day of reunion and gifts
  • spring festival (11 days): a festival of family activities, prayers and feasts
  • lantern festival (5 days): celebrates family reunions and society, and also includes the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day. The Chinese mark the event by making lanterns and lighting them

Each day during this period involves different activities and sees different foods and beverages consumed.

For example, on the first day of the Chinese New Year, firecrackers are lit and people watch their fortunes for the coming year.

Chinese lanterns are set up during the Lantern Festival as part of their New Year celebrations (Image: AFP/Getty Images)

Typical foods include spring rolls, dumplings, noodles, steamed fish, or chicken and rice cakes.

The Chinese New Year is also celebrated all over the world.

Celebrations take place in cities across the UK, but the center of the festivities is in London’s West End Chinatown, where you can see parades featuring traditional Chinese lions and tigers.

Trafalgar Square also tends to host a celebration involving screen projection, speeches, traditional food and drink and firecrackers.

However, due to the spread of the Omicron variant Covid-19, it is still unclear whether or not these events will take place.

How to say Happy New Year in Chinese

There are two main languages ​​in China, Mandarin (widely spoken on the mainland) and Cantonese (mainly spoken in Hong Kong).

Both languages ​​use three different phrases to wish someone a happy new year.

  • ‘Xīnnián hǎo’ which directly translates to ‘New Year’s goodness’

Mandarin: 新年好 or “sshin-nyen haoww”

Cantonese: 新年好 or “sen-nin haow”

  • ‘Gōngxǐ fācái’ which means ‘happiness and prosperity’ in English

Mandarin: 恭喜发财 or “gong-sshee faa-tseye”

Cantonese: 恭喜發財 or “gong-hey faa-chwhy”

  • ‘Bùbù gāoshēng’ which translates into English as ‘up and up’

Mandarin: 步步高升 or “boo-boo gaoww-shnng”

Cantonese: 步步高陞 or “boh-boh goh-sshi”

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