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Chinese New Year 2021

Chinese New Year

When is the Chinese New Year?

The Chinese New Year 2021 falls on Friday, February 12th, 2021, and celebrations culminate with the Lantern Festival on February 26th, 2021.

How long is Chinese New Year?

16 Days. Celebrations last up to 16 days, but only the first 7 days are considered a public holiday (February 11th–17th, 2021).

What is the 2021 Chinese zodiac?

Chinese New Year marks the transition between zodiac signs: 2021 is the year of the Ox; 2020 the year of the Rat.

The Ox is the second of all zodiac animals. According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party. The Ox was about to be the first to arrive, but Rat tricked Ox into giving him a ride. Then, just as they arrived, Rat jumped down and landed ahead of Ox. Thus, Ox became the second animal.

The Ox is also associated with the Earthly Branch (地支 / dì zhī) Chǒu (丑) and the hours 1–3 in the morning. In the terms of yin and yang (阴阳 / yīn yáng), the Ox is Yang. In Chinese culture, the Ox is a valued animal. Because of its role in agriculture, positive characteristics, such as being hardworking and honest, are attributed to it.

The Monster and New Year’s Eve

In ancient times, there was a monster named Nián (年). It usually lives at the bottom of the sea and comes up once a year to feast on animals and humans. On this day, the villagers would all escape into the mountains.

Two figures parade in a Chinese dragon train. Painting by a Chinese artist, ca. 1850.. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

One year, a beggar came to seek shelter, but everyone was hurrying away. Only an old woman took him in and he promised to chase Nian away. He busied himself with decorating the homes.

At midnight, Nian lumbered in but stopped short when it saw the red paper on the doors. As it roared in anger, firecrackers suddenly sounded and it trembled in fear. When it saw the beggar, dressed in red, laughing at it, it could only run away.

The villagers came back the next day and were pleasantly surprised that the homes were all still standing. They realized that loud noises and the color red were Nian’s kryptonite.

This is why, on New Year’s Eve, families eat dinner in their homes fortified by red decorations. At midnight, firecrackers are sounded. In addition, people will wear new and festive red clothing to celebrate.

Further reading see Chinese New Year

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