Kirsty Mah tell us more about this celebration.
So it’s finally my year – the Year of the Ox, but bad news for my fellow Oxen: this is meant to be our unlucky year according to the traditions of Chinese New Year.
Chinese New Year is often known as Lunar New Year for a couple reasons: Firstly, it’s not just Chinese people who celebrate. Up to one quarter of the world’s population will partake in celebrations for the New Year, primarily in South East Asian countries, but also across Asian communities in the UK, USA and Canada. Secondly, this festival celebrates the start of a new year on the traditional Chinese Lunarsolar calendar, which is the beginning of a calendar year whose months are cycles of the moon and cycles of the sun - hence, the name Lunar New Year.
The Lunar New Year marks the beginning from one animal to the next of the Chinese zodiac, a repeating 12-year cycle of animal signs and their ascribed attributes, based on the lunar calendar. In order, the zodiac animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig. As an Ox, I am said to be reliable, calm, patient and trustworthy, but also stubborn and hate to fail (very accurate if I don’t say so myself!).
So, back to why it’s unlucky to be in your zodiac year – according to Chinese astrology, people in their zodiac year are believed to offend Tai Sui, the God of Age and incur his curse. It’s believed to bring nothing but bad luck. However, there is said to be a simple way to fend off back luck: wear red. It’s one of the luckiest colours in Chinese culture, representing prosperity, loyalty, success and happiness. Red can drive away bad luck and evil spirits. Red and gold are the most commons colours seen across celebrations, from the colours of the lions and dragons, to the red envelopes that children, family members, friends and employees receive as gifts as a symbol of good luck.
Normally, New Year is celebrated with lion and dragon dances, gift exchanging, fireworks, and most importantly, a feast of the most delicious food. My favourite are dumplings, which represent wealth. It’s said the more dumplings you can eat, the more money you will make in the New Year. As a celebration that lasts for 15 days, my favourite thing about New Year is the gathering of family from near and far. Sadly, this is now the second year that celebrations have been put on pause due to the pandemic. Celebrations can still continue virtually, but it is often the only time in the year families can reunite, so is a tough time for those not living with loved ones.
It’ll the first year by myself and despite it being my unlucky year, there’s still much to celebrate and I’ll be spending the festival catching up with my family, eating lots of dumplings and wearing lots of red!
Gong Hey Fat Choy! (Wishing you a prosperous New Year!)