Chinese New Year 2022 – The year of the Tiger
Paper Lantern, Matt Seymour.
Did you know… Lunar New Year or Spring Festival are other ways of calling the Chinese New Year? These celebrations are not just happening in China, but most of the East Asian countries celebrate it too.
This year, the Spring Festival begins on the eve of the 31st of January and finishes on the 15th of February. The first seven days of the Lunar New Year are public holidays in China, most shops and retails will be closed during this period, with other businesses closing throughout the holiday season.
The Tiger, the third zodiac sign on the podium
According to the Chinese Lunar Calendar, people born between the 21st of January and the 1st of February are represented by the tiger.
The Chinese Lunar Calendar goes back to the Emperor Huangdi, the first Chinese emperor. In 2637 B.C. the emperor invented it to follow the cycles of the moon.
The legend of the twelve zodiac signs
The story starts with the birthday of the Jade Emperor, one of the most important gods of the Chinese Taoist pantheons. He called up all the animals in the kingdom for a race. It is believed that the reason for this race was to be able to create a ‘measurement of character’ for the people. There would only be twelve winners. Twelve animals turned up at the starting line: pig, ox, rat, tiger, dog, rooster, monkey, sheep, horse, snake, dragon, and rabbit.
The story tells as well, the personality traits of the people who are born in each year. In the Chinese culture, your zodiac sign matters a lot when it comes to building relationships. There’s no offence when asked about your sign!
Curious to know which zodiac sign represents you and some attributes, check it out.
Chinese New Year Parade, Chinatown, London. Lachlan Gowen.
Chinese New Year in London
London has usually the biggest festivities for the Spring Festival outside of Asia. The London Chinese New Year Parade main stage is located in Trafalgar Square but it goes all the way through Shaftesbury Avenue finishing in the beautiful Chinatown. Unfortunately, this year the celebrations will be scaled back due to covid restrictions.
Although the parade has been cancelled, the community will still perform the lion dance through the streets of Chinatown and will hold the night market at Newport Place. Pre-recorded performances will be broadcast around the area on large screens to brighten the atmosphere.
There are also a few events and workshops that are worth checking out.
If you’re a DIY enthusiast, this free paper lantern-making workshop is the one to attend. You can even take your own lantern home. On the last day of the Spring Festival, you can light up your lantern and let it fly, symbolising the riddance of the past and the acceptance of new experiences.
Where? St. Margaret’s Hall
When? Sunday’s 30th January and 6th February.
Greenwich’s National Maritime Museum is hosting a day of Lunar New Year celebrations in collaboration with the Vietnamese Women’s Group, Global Fusion Music and the Arts and the Newham Chinese Association. There will be printing workshops, Tai Chi demonstrations, Mahjong sessions and lion dancing. All of these events are free to attend, so you better book your slot when they’re still available.
Where? National Maritime Museum
When? 29 January 2022.
The Greenwich Royal Museum has a special Lunar New Year guided tour, with objects related to the Spring Festival.
When? 3rd February
Where? Prince Philip Maritime Collections Centre.
There is a family-friendly event at the Museum of London Docklands to celebrate the Spring Festival. There will be performances and community activities.
Where? Museum of London Docklands.
When? The 5th and 6th February.
Red Envelope on Chinese New Year
Red Envelopes tradition
This tradition is considered one of the oldest ones during the Chinese New Year.
The story goes as… a demon would come every new year to scare children in their sleep. For that reason, parents would light candles to keep the children awake all night long. One new year’s eve, a child was playing with eight coins wrapping them and unwrapping them in a red paper until he was so tired that he fell asleep.
When Sui, the demon, came to terrorize this child, the eight coins became a strong light that made the demon go away. These eight coins symbolise eight fairies.
The colour red symbolised good luck, happiness, and energy. It’s custom to give money in a red envelope on special occasions but in particular during Lunar New Year celebrations.
An interesting fact is that the money gifted has to be new, not used or damaged. If you get to experience these fun times in China, you will notice long queues of people at the banks exchanging old notes for new ones.
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