All You Need to Know about Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year, otherwise referred to as Lunar New Year, was on the 25th January this year. The celebration falls on different dates each year as it follows the Lunar calendar, which is based on the moon’s movements, so there is no set recurring date; last year it fell on the 9th of February. The period around Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival, which has been celebrated for over 3,000 years. Despite it not actually being spring, it is called such as the colder days draw to a close in China. It typically falls between the middle of January to the middle of February and lasts around 15 days, making it China’s longest holiday and one of the most exciting times to be in China!
Year of the Rat
2020 is the year of the rat, which to many people does not sound too pleasant, however, the rat is thought of as a harbinger of wealth when it comes to zodiac signs. There are 12 zodiac signs, that repeat after each other and each have their own meanings. Rats are considered as having strong imaginations, being resourceful, optimistic, adaptable and curious, which are all good traits to have! Other years which were the year of the rat are 1888, 1900, 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996 and 2008. Were you born in the year of the rat? Famous people born in the year of the rat include William Shakespeare, Cameron Diaz, Scarlett Johansson, Cristiano Ronaldo and Prince Harry!
Largest Annual Migration of People in the World
The Chinese new year period causes the biggest annual mass migration of people in the world, as most people travel out of their city homes back to their hometowns in rural China for family reunions. An estimated 3 billion journeys take place during this period! As a result of this all of China’s public transport, especially trains, buses and flights, become exceedingly busy. China is constantly developing new railway lines, meaning that travellers have benefitted from reduced journey times home, so they can start celebrating sooner.
Traditions and Celebrations
There’s no chance that you could forget that it is New Year in China as there are decorations up everywhere to signify the celebration around two weeks before it begins. Chinese New Year is very much focused on spending time with family and loved ones as people travel from wherever they are to be with their families, and for many workers this is the only time they see their families all year.
Chinese New Year is typically the time that families and friends exchange gifts with each other, and children receive a red envelope containing money for luck! The red envelope used to be a physical gift, however, as most Chinese people do everything over the WeChat app nowadays, they are mostly sent through here! There are many superstitions focused around the new year which are thought to control how your year might go.
Many public displays occur in most cities across China and an abundance of private celebrations happen throughout this period. Fireworks and firecrackers are set off at Midnight on Chinese New Year, which used to be seen to scare off any monsters and get rid of bad luck before going into the new year.
It’s also a key time for schools and teachers to celebrate, with most holding large annual parties for their teachers, often in a nice hotel, with great food, drinks and dancing!
Teacher Gabby at her school’s Chinese New Year party
Chinese New Year is celebrated worldwide with many cities having a day of celebrating in their Chinatowns, often having a parade, dancing and sharing food.
As with anything in China, food is always at the center of the celebrations and Chinese New Year is no exception, in fact it is the time most people overindulge. Traditional foods eaten for the celebrations all have unique benefits and meaning behind them. Carp or catfish for an increase in prosperity, Chinese dumplings for good wealth, glutinous rice cake for a higher income or position, pork for progress and sweet rice are all key foods that families love to enjoy around this period of time. Yum!
An Opportunity for Teachers to Travel
As most shops and schools shut down for the Chinese New year this is the perfect time for teachers to go on vacation and explore China, as well and the rest of Asia. Considering the low cost of living in China and the excellent wages teachers receive, it is easy enough to save up for a big trip for the new year break. Public school teachers have 3-4 weeks off work at this time of year, and language centre teachers have around 1.5 weeks off work.
Teacher Jess explored the Great Wall of China
In 2020, Opportunity China teachers have enjoyed incredible experiences exploring destinations such as Australia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Japan, Hong Kong and more!
Teacher Darren traveled to Dali, China
Chinese New Year is an incredible annual celebration, and amazing to experience first-hand with Chinese colleagues and friends. You could be in China for the 2021 celebrations!
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