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Happy Chinese New Year

 

 

On 10 February 2013, the year of the dragon ends and the year of the snake begins. This celebration comes from tales and legends when the Chinese New Year began with a battle against a fierce mythological beast called the ‘Nian’. At the beginning of the second new moon after winter solistace, the ‘nian’ would visit villages and terrorize the land, adding livestock, crops and even people to its horde. To prevent this, the villagers learnt that if they put food outside of their doors. It was later discovered that the nian also fears the colour red, and so the tradition of hanging red lanterns and spring scrolls from doors and windows. This legend also neatly explains the derivation of the word, nian, which was used for the mythological beast. Today, ‘nian’ [骞碷 now means ‘year’, appearing explicitly in the phrase ‘Happy New Year’, xin nian kuai le [鏂板勾蹇箰].

You can also see how the number of the year is written and spoken in the Chinese language. It is very easy to come to terms with because you simply say the individual numbers consecutively. So, for instance, 2013 is said, ‘two, zero, one, three’ or, [浜岄浂涓涓塢; unfortunately, ‘ling’ is quite a complicated character to write!

This time of the year becomes very busy in terms of travel within China. Just like Christmas in the western world, the prices for flight and bus tickets rise. It is a time of year when families gather together and celebrate the New Year, and where the sharing of food is quite an important activity. Red envelopes are also exchanged containing money.

Chinese New Year is a very exciting and colourful time of the year. You will be sure to notice the incredible amount of fireworks on the eve before New Year’s Day.

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