Part of learning a second language, is learning the culture, the importance of holidays and celebrated events. One of the most important and exciting events on the Chinese calendar is quickly approaching. Chinese New Year 2020, the year of the Rat begins on Saturday January 25th, 2020(Gregorian calendar date). Chinese New Year will last for 15 days, ending with the Lantern Festival on February 8th, 2020. If your child is currently in an immersion program, Chinese New Year is something they are definitely learning about in class. This festive time of year focuses on starting clean & fresh, appreciating ones family & friends as well as honoring ancestors. There are many details and events that make up the celebrations of Chinese New Year, we will discuss a few below. My favorite way of engaging my son, is not letting him know how much or little I know about what he's learning, but knowing enough to prompt a progressive Q&A session with him where he will fill me in and teach me more about what he is learning in class.
Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year directly correlates with the Lunar Calendar and the first day of the new years moon. Meaning, it does not fall on the same day every year. New Years Eve and Day are typically celebrated with family and were traditionally religious events to honor ancestors. Celebrations include visiting family, especially the eldest family members, eating family meals, gift giving, shooting off fireworks, as well as taking a relaxing break from work. Gifts often come in the form of red envelopes “red pockets”, filled with money for kids and single family members. The monetary gift, is a symbol of passing on blessings and good fortune to the younger generations. New Years Day is not a day to use bad language, to shower, or to clean your home.
- Day 1: New Years Day (Jan 25th) celebrated with a meatless dinner
- Day 2: Send prayers to your ancestors
- Day 5: Spent at home, it is bad luck to visit anyone on this day
- Day 9: Offerings are made to the Jade Emperor
- Day 10-12: Visit friends and relatives for dinner
- Day 15: Lantern Festival (Feb 8th) and eat vegetarian
Every year is marked by one of twelve Zodiac animals each unique with its own characteristics. 2020 is the year of the Rat, the rat is the first of the zodiac animals. The Zodiac story varies widely amongst the Chinese, the most common is a race the Jade Emperor hosted, with the intent to choose the first twelve animals to be his guards. It is said, the rat was the first animal to reach the Jade Emperor by taking a ride on the Ox to cross the river. Rats are thought to be successful and clever quick thinkers. Rats also symbolize vitality, married couples wanting children would often pray to the Rat God because of their successful reproduction and survival rates.
The New Year festivities are brought to a close with the Lantern Festival, my favorite part, on the 15th day of the new moon. The Lantern Festival began roughly 2000 years ago and is celebrated with the obvious lighting of lanterns, letting them go into the sky while everyone gathers in the streets to socialize and play games. Lion dances, moon gazing and eating rice balls also mark the end of the 15 day Chinese New Year festivities. What a wondrous site it must be, watching all the lanterns lift into the sky. If you are interested in celebrating Chinese New Year or the Lantern Festival at home with your family, check out our website for supplies and further recommendations.
Purchase: Lanterns 2020 Calendar
Graphic Source: https://www.thechinesezodiac.org/chinese-new-year-traditions/