This year, Chinese New Year – The Year of the Monkey – begins on the 8th February and lasts until the 27th January 2017. It’s China’s most important traditional festival (also known as the Spring Festival) and festivities normally kick off the day before the New Year and continue until the Lantern Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the new year.
2016 — The Year of the Monkey
Each Chinese New Year is characterised by one of 12 animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac. This year it’s the Year of the Monkey, the ninth animal in the cycle.
People born in the Year of the Monkey are characterised as curious, innovative, lively, quick-witted and mischievous. However, Monkey years are also believed to be the most unlucky for people born in a year of the Monkey.
The Chinese New Year party in London will be the biggest outside of Asia. Here’s your guide on how to celebrate (like the Chinese):
Celebrate the Chinese way!
- Get together and enjoy family time
Chinese New Year is a festival for family and the most important meal of the year is eaten together on Chinese New Year’s Eve, known as the “reunion dinner”. Every dish has its symbolism deeply rooted in Chinese culture with different types of food having different meanings.
- Decorate Streets, Houses and Buildings with Lucky Red Items including red lanterns, pictures and couplets. Red is the main colour of the festival.
- Set off firecrackers and fireworks and worship your ancestors for a traditional touch.
- Give Red Envelopes (with money in) or “Hongbao” to pass on your best wishes – like presents at Christmas.
- Eat lucky foods for increased luck in the year ahead. Fish is a favourite as the Chinese word for fish sounds like the word for “surplus”. Eating fish therefore, is believed to bring a surplus of good luck and money in the coming year. Other Chinese New Year foods include:
- Spring Rolls
First eaten on the fourth day of February in Eastern Jin Dynasty (317 – 420). Fresh vegetables and ingredients seasonal to spring time are wrapped inside and are eaten to welcome a new spring.
The Chinese dumpling can be traced back to South and North Dynasty (420-589). Dumplings are often eaten at midnight as the new year takes over the old. The dumpling’s shape is thought to resemble the Chinese tael, which hopes to bring in wealth and treasures in the coming year.
- New Year Cake
Originally used to worship the gods and ancestors during the festival period.
- Rice Dumpling (Yuanxiao)
Eaten during the Lantern Festival. The round shape of the rice dumpling is a symbol of family reunion.