Looking Towards Spring
The Chinese New Year or 'Spring Festival' is China's most important festivals and holiday time. According to the Chinese Lunar Calendar, this year – the year of the Pig - starts on Tuesday, February 5, 2019.
Each year is assigned to one of 12 specific animals, commonly referred to as the Chinese Zodiac. The traits (signs) of each animal indicate the strengths and weaknesses of those born under the year of their sign.
The pig, for example, is considered to be diligent, compassionate, and generous. With strong focus, they will achieve goals and rarely seek help from others. Because they do not suspect trickery, so they are easily fooled.
Within the Pig sign, there are many variations: wood pig, fire pig, water, and more.
Although it takes place in winter, it is called the Spring Festival because this is when people start looking forward to the coming spring.
The streets of Chinatowns and Chinese neighborhoods around the world are decorated with red lanterns, red banners, and other “lucky red” items. Fireworks, parades, and dragon dances are also on public display during the 15 days of celebrations.
On the eve of the New Year is also when the most important meal of the year is served. The ‘Reunion Dinner’ brings families together to share deliciously prepared “lucky” dishes, such as noodles which represents a long life. It is believed to be bad luck will come to those who cut the noodles.
Another favorite is Jiaozi. When the dumplings are round they are meant to signify family unity. When shaped like crescent moons they are a symbol of wealth and prosperity because that particular shape resembles the shape of ancient Chinese money.
Along with sharing meals and visiting family friends and relatives, participants also exchange red gifts (clothing, jewelry, etc.) and/or red envelopes of money.