It’s the year of the Pig! Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in China and celebrated by many around the world. Known as the Lunar New Year, it is also celebrated by other Asian countries such as Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Singapore, and more. Although each country celebrates differently, there is a strong emphasis on reuniting with family to ring in the new year. The Spring Festival is intended to celebrate the end of the coldest days of the year. It is a way to welcome new starts, bountiful planting, and reuniting with loved ones. It marks the start of the lunar year and changes each year.
While the Gregorian calendar marks January 1st as the start, the Chinese New Year honors nature to celebrate the beginning of a new year. Why is it called the year of the Pig? As part of Chinese tradition, every year is based off the Chinese zodiac twelve-year cycle and named after a specific animal. Each animal symbolizes its own characteristics that people hope to embody throughout the new year. Last year was the year of the dog, which represents compassion, courage, and loyalty. 2019 is the year of the Pig which means we must all channel personality and fortune this coming year. This year is intended to celebrate life and enjoy it to the fullest. So, treat yourself a little bit more and enjoy the finer things in life, because you deserve it!
There are many ways to celebrate the new year in China. Considering it is the biggest holiday of the year, there is so much to do to prepare and participate. It is very common to deep clean your home prior to the new year, so you can begin with a fresh start and rid your home of all the negativity in your life. Businesses and schools are closed for a few days as families gather to spend some quality time together. There are plenty of performances, fireworks, parades, and foods to bring in the new year. Each tradition has specific symbolism and reasoning in order to start the year in a thoughtful and exciting way. For example, staples like noodle soup fireworks are intended to bring good luck and scare evil spirits. Gifts are given called, red pockets, and are filled with money to honor the new year of fortune.
Unlike the western Gregorian new year holiday, Chinese New Year’s last for two whole weeks. To close out the holiday, China celebrates its 2000-year-old tradition with the Lantern Festival, or Yuan Xio. Whiles families come together at the start of the year, they must return to daily life during the two-week period. The Lantern Festival is used to come back together and reunite. The Festival also is intended for socializing in the streets, lighting lanterns, and playing games.
For people around the world, including many of our au pairs from China, Chinese New Year is an extremely special day to celebrate. Whether in China or in America, there are plenty of ways to ring in the new year. Educate your host families, ask your au pairs questions about their traditions, and start this year off right with your loved ones.