The Year of the Metal Rat: Spring Begins!
Chinese New Year, the Lunar New Year, is a fifteen-day holiday celebrated each year by more than a quarter of the world’s people. The New Year marks the beginning of Spring and begins on the second new moon after the Winter Solstice. In the year 2020 we’re celebrating January 25th – February 8th.
Called “Chinese New Year” here in the West, throughout Asia and the Pacific Rim, it’ known as the “Spring Festival” 春節 and is a holiday that announces the end of the coldest weather and beginning of Spring. It’s this exact time of year that we see the days begin to lengthen, the sun rise and set a wee bit earlier & later, and the birds begin to chirp calling on Springtime. It’s time to plan our gardens and prepare for new beginnings!
There are many traditional and modern greetings for the New Year at the Spring Festival. Two simple ones to practice and say are
新年快乐 Xīn nián kuài lè [Happy New Year] and 恭喜发财 Gōng xǐ fā cái [Congratulations and Prosperity]
For info about New Year greetings, taboos, foods, and history we recommend Chinese New Year 2020.
2020 is the Year of the Rat, the first sign of the Chinese Zodiac, and the 4717th Chinese year! As legend holds, the Jade Emperor invited the Celestial Animals to the temple for a party. The Celestial Animals had to ferry across a river before entering the temple grounds. The first of the animals, the Rat, hitched a ride on the back of the Ox, and once they arrived safely to the other side, the Rat jumped down and was first to enter the temple. Rat was followed by the Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. From that day on, they were delegated to guard the 12-year cycle that governs the ebb and flow of life.
2020: Year of the Rat
The Rat symbolizes cleverness, resourcefulness, and contentment. The Year of the Rat, the Metal Rat in fact, is predicted to be a time of new beginnings.
For more fun facts about the Chinese Lunar New Year check out 21 Things You Didn’t Know About Chinese New Year
Making Your Own Celebration
Check out our tips below to help *you* celebrate the Lunar New Year and Spring Festival.
As soon as you can, sweep the dust and dirt of the old year from your floors to make way for the New Year. You don’t have to do the whole house; just hold the intention of doing so. Out with the old and in with the new. Sweeping away any bad luck that may have accumulated over the past year is satisfying… and it can’t hurt!
Remember, it’s important to *not* clean during the first few days of the Lunar Festival – if you do any sweeping during this time, you can risk sweeping away good luck!
Decorate your house in traditional Chinese colors and with symbols of wealth and good fortune: brilliant shades of red and gold.
Decorate your doors and windows with red streamers, paint, or pictures. Red is considered to be a lucky color.
You can also hang paper cutouts on doors and windows. (Paper cutting is an ancient Chinese art form dating back to the Han dynasty). But don’t do this at the beginning of the celebration. Tradition urges us to avoid cutting, using scissors knives needles or any sharp tools at the New Year: their sharp points cut out your good luck. More on Lunar New Year No-Nos!
Force the blooming of peach or flowering quince branches, or bowls of fragrant paper-white narcissus. These flowers are said to bring abundance. Flowering plants symbolize rebirth and new growth, and ensure prosperity in the coming year.
What can we do? Fill as many rooms as you can with flowers and blooming plants!
Watch this VIDEO to learn how to force bulbs, click here.
Go out to eat, or order in a traditional New Year’s Day dinner from a Chinese restaurant. Cook and or eat good luck-drawing dishes. Gururas and the rest of the staff heartily recommend you visit Seminole Heights Yummy House — the best authentic Chinese food in the Tampa Bay area!
When planning your meals remember Chinese New Year foods include oysters, which represent good fortune and success, fish, representing surplus, and lettuce, representing wealth, riches and prosperity, and oranges and long noodles.
And don’t forget the dumplings! In northern China, the main traditional dish for the occasion is dumplings, which symbolize wealth because of their Chinese-tael-like shape.
Send greeting cards to friends wishing them abundance, contentment and prosperity throughout the Year of the Rat.
Use red Hongbao “Lucky Money” envelopes and tuck in little cash or a personalized greeting wishing them abundance & health in the new year.
Maybe try writing down on a small piece of paper a few hopes you hold for yourself in the upcoming year. Place it in your own Hongbao envelope and check on your special envelope as often as possible throughout the year to help make your wishes come true.
Another simple way to join in the celebration is to eat oranges: the Clementine small tangerine like citrus are often associated with Chinese New Year celebrations.
Best wishes for a prosperous and abundant year and may your year amplify peace, joy and good health throughout!