Today marks Chinese New Year – a national holiday celebrated in China and right across the world, with London and other cities in the UK boasting among the largest celebrations outside of China.
The Chinese calendar is based on lunar and solar cycles, and so the new year falls on a different day each year. The Chinese zodiac itself includes 12 animals, with each representing a different year. 2019 is the Year of the Pig, having last made appearances in 2007 and 1995 before that.
Here are six things you might not have known:
1. Chinese New Year marks the start of the Spring Festival, a celebration which signifies the end of cold days and welcomes the start of warmer months.
2. Breaking glass or ceramic during New Years is considered bad luck – you should wrap any broken shards in red paper immediately and throw them into a lake or river once the celebration is over to ward off bad spirits.
3. The day before Spring Festival is dedicated to cleaning so you can sweep away the bad luck and make room for the good – but you shouldn’t clean during the festival itself!
4. The year of your zodiac animal is considered to be a year of bad luck – this is because you enter a year of rebirth and regeneration, and are therefore more vulnerable to evil spirits.
5. Children are traditionally given money in red envelopes or pockets to encourage fortune in the New Year. This can be extended to friends and employers giving money to their staff, or even gifting to members of the public.
6. Chinese New Year marks the world’s biggest yearly human migration, as youngsters leave the towns and cities to go back to visit their families in rural areas.
Whether you’re celebrating or not, we wish everyone a Happy Chinese New Year – and hope that the Year of the Pig brings you fortune and prosperity!