Chinese New Year in Chinatown London, Soho

Chinese Calendar

The Chinese zodiac signs are determined by the lunar year in which you were born. The Chinese believe the animal ruling one's birth year has a profound influence on personality, and destiny. The saying is: "This animal hides in your heart."


2009

4707

Ox

2010

4708

Tiger

2011

4709

Rabbit

2012

4710

Dragon

2013

4711

Snake

2014

4712

Horse

2015

4713

Ram

2016

4714

Monkey

2017

4715

Rooster

2018

4716

Dog

2019

4717

Pig

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Chinese New Year

The oldest and most important festival in China is the Spring Festival, more commonly known in the West as Chinese New Year. Like all Chinese festivals, the date of the new year is determined by the lunar/solar calendar rather than the Western (Gregorian) calendar, so the date of the holiday varies from late January to mid February.

On New Year’s Eve houses are brightly lit and a large family dinner is served. In the south of China sticky-sweet glutinous rice pudding called nian gao is served, while in the north the steamed dumpling jiaozi is popular. Most celebrating the festival stay up till midnight, when fireworks are lit, to drive away evil spirits. New Years day is often spent visiting neighbours, family and friends.

The public holiday for New Year lasts 3 days in China, but the festival traditionally lasts till the 15th day of the lunar month and ends with the ‘Lantern Festival’. Here, houses are decorated with colourful lanterns, and yuanxioa, a sweet or savoury fried or boiled dumpling made of glutinous rice flour is eaten.

Preparations for the New Year festival start during the last few days of the last moon. Houses are thoroughly cleaned, debts repaid, hair cut and new clothes bought. Doors are decorated with vertical scrolls of characters on red paper whose texts seek good luck and praise nature, this practice stemming from the hanging of peach-wood charms to keep away ghosts and evil spirits. In many homes incense is burned, and also in the temples as a mark of respect to ancestors.

The Spring festival celebrates the earth coming back to life, and the start of ploughing and sowing. In the past, feudal rulers of dynasties placed great importance on this occasion, and ceremonies to usher in the season were performed.

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