February 16 is Chinese New Year – but what does it mean and how can we get involved?
Where and how is Chinese New Year celebrated?
Chinese New Year is not only celebrated in Mainland China, but also observed in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore and some other Asian countries as well as Chinatowns around the world.
The peak time of the entire celebration is on Chinese New Year's Eve and the first day of the lunar new year. The 15th day is called Lantern Festival, marking the end of the celebration.
How do I know when to celebrate Chinese New Year?
Chinese New Year celebrations take part on February 16 this year. But the date alters every year, according to the lunar calendar, based on the movement of the moon. It usually varies between mid-January and mid-February.
How do animals figure in this festival?
The Chinese Zodiac runs on a cycle of 12 years, with each year denoting an animal. These are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. 2018 is the Year of the Dog. Find out what this means here.
How is it celebrated (and how do I join in)?
If you’re wondering how to celebrate Chinese New Year with kids, there are many traditions you could follow.
The reunion dinner on Chinese New Year's Eve is a big feast to commemorate the past year. This is the most important time to be with families – so if your youngsters have never tried Chinese food before, getting relatives together to enjoy a feast from the Far East would be a fun and easy way to mark the occasion.
Red decorations and red clothing are normally on display. In the Chinese culture, red symbolises happiness, wealth and prosperity, and wards off evil spirits while bringing good luck. So why not make Chinese lanterns, or check out a variety of New Year themed crafts?
Are there any events we can attend?
Any city with a Chinese community is likely to hold a celebration – whether that be a dragon parade or a Chinese food festival. So check online and in your local newspaper for listings. Chinese New Year events are colourful and fun Winter family days out. Festivities are held in London, as well as Manchester. And there’s a list of events in the Cambridge area, offering some great fun Winter activities for families.