While we’d normally be celebrating Chinese New Year with colourful parades filled with drums and firecrackers, dragon dances, family reunions and delicious feasts (particularly in Newcastle’s China Town), things are a little different this year. So from February 12th, as the Chinese New Year begins, we’re taking a look at the lunar calendar and its history.
In Chinese culture, each year is related to an animal, with 2021 marking the year of the Ox. On 12th February, the Year of the Ox will be marked. The new year is a chance to start fresh and share in the hope of good things to come, so communities around the world will take part in 16 days of celebrations to bring in the Chinese new year.
The main colour of the celebration is red and comes from the origins of the festival when a mythical lion-like monster, Nian (translated as year), preyed on villagers and was only deterred by the colour and the sound of loud drumming and firecrackers. The aim of the noisemakers was to scare off any evil spirits before the coming of spring.
Customs include sharing red money-filled envelopes with children and unmarried adults to bring them luck, decorating the house with oranges and lotus flowers and eating round savoury dumplings that symbolise never-ending fortune.
The Year of the Ox signals good fortune for those born in the ‘ox' years of 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997 and 2009. It also influences the fortunes of the other 11 animal signs, depending on their relationship with the ox. The ox is the strongest and most stubborn of the 12 Chinese animals (and the best equipped to stem the flow), so maybe this year will bring some balance to the continuing uncertainties.
The Chinese community in the North East and Yorkshire will be celebrating the new year, just in a different way to usual.
Want to celebrate? You can mark Chinese New Year with fireworks displays on private land, as long as they are safe and you stick to coronavirus guidelines within your support bubble. By UK law, fireworks can be set off until 1am to mark Chinese New Year. If you search ‘Chinese New Year’ or ‘Year of the Ox’ in google, you’ll be greeted with virtual fireworks too.
All that’s left to say, is a Happy Chinese New Year from all of us at Living North.