Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in China. The festivities that go on during this time are a huge part of the Chinese culture, and nearly 20% of the world’s population celebrates the holiday. This Chinese New Year is the year of the Dog, and we love dogs so much that it seemed only fitting to share 5 things you probably didn’t know about the holiday.
It’s also known as Spring Festival and a day of prayer
Though it is still very cold when Chinese New Year comes around, the holiday marks the end of the worst of winter and welcomes in Spring. The holiday celebrates spring and a bountiful planting season along with new beginnings, and fresh starts. Originally the holiday was a day to pray to gods for a good planting season.
Spring Festival marked the return of a terrifying mythological beast
Every new year, a beast, called Nian, would return and terrorize villages. People were so scared of him that they would hide in their homes the entire day. This continued until one brave boy scared the beast away for good with firecrackers. This was the start of using firecrackers as a way of celebrating and the tradition continues today. In fact, Beijing tried to ban firecrackers because of safety reasons. The city was met with so much protesting that the ban was eventually lifted in 2006 and fireworks are shot off for days.
Celebrations last for days
The festival is technically celebrated for 15 days, but the festivities begin on New Year’s Eve. According to tradition, you are supposed to spend time with your family and can only go out the 5th day. During this time most stores are closed. To prepare for being home so long, people begin buying nian huo, or New Year’s products, the month before. These things includes cooking supplies, snacks, gifts, and new clothes.
It causes the largest human migration in the world
Because of the tradition of spending time at home with your family, millions of people leave the cities and go back home to the villages where their families live. This causes transportation chaos and major headaches. Statistically, in 2015 one thousand train tickets were sold each second!
Showering or sweeping isn’t allowed
Cleaning of any kind isn’t allowed on New Year’s Day, not even showering! Sweeping or taking out the garbage isn’t allowed before the 5th. The reasoning for this is to make sure you don’t sweep away any good luck! On the other hand, there’s a day before the Spring Festival dedicated to cleaning. This day is to sweep the bad luck away and make room for the good.
Other interesting taboo things:
Using scissors, knives and other sharp things
Saying unlucky words (such as “death” and “sickness”)
2018 may officially be the Year of the Dog, but that’s every year for all of us around here! Happy Chinese New Year!
*From our friends at Unleashed Life