5 Interesting Facts About the Lunar New Year

chinese danceThe Lunar New Year is an annually celebrated tradition that brings together thousands of people in a celebration of life, light and family. This past Saturday, January 28 marked the official beginning of the Year of the Rooster. Here are five interesting things you may not have known about the Lunar New Year.

  1. This celebration is not only participated in by the Chinese population. It is estimated that one-fifth of our world population gathers together in order to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Countries such as Japan, Korea and Vietnam are only a few around the world who also participate in the celebration annually. Pictured to the right are individuals from all around the world celebrating Chinese New Year at Renison University College.group china shot
  2. Although it is unclear exactly when this tradition started, many believe that the Lunar New Year is a celebration which has roots that go back all the way to the Shang Dynasty. The Shang Dynasty was Chinas second reigning dynasty, spanning from ((1766 BC - 1122 BC). This specific time period saw numerous cultural advances, including the introduction of bronze casting and the start of rituals such as the Lunar New Year. It was in this time period in which China’s first form of government was established, a system that would stay in place for the next 600 years!  
  3. While our zodiac system here in the west is divided into a segments of 12 months. The Chinese zodiac is divided into 12 years. Each one of these years has an association with an animal: pig, dog, rooster, monkey, horse, sheep, snake, dragon, tiger, ox and rabbit. There are several stories as to how these specific animals came to be the rulers of each year. One legend states that Buddha called all the animals of the world to him in a bid to say goodbye before he left this earth. The only ones that listened and followed through with his invitation were these 12 animals. As a result, Buddha named a year after each of them in the order in which they arrived to see him.zodiac wheel                                   Another tale states that a large race was held in order to determine which animal would be first in the cycle of 12 years.The mouse and the cat were friends back then. The cat was worried that he wouldn’t get up in time for the race, to which the mouse promised he would wake him up. However, the mouse completely forgot about his friend, and instead hopped on the ox for the entire duration of the race, only to hop off the exhausted ox before the finish line to claim first. The cat woke up only after all 12 animals have been selected, which explains why ever since then the cat always chased after the mouse. 
  4. Fireworks are a large element of what fuels the celebrations during Chinese New Year. It is estimated that this year, over 23,888 fireworks we ignited during the final night of celebration. The last three digits of this number being kept very specific given that eight is seen as an extremely lucky number in Chinese culture.chinese new year red cards5. Each year a red envelope is handed out by parents of unmarried youth and younger children containing treats and money. Red is considered to be a colour which brings prosperity in the Chinese culture and money symbolises the hope for abundance and wealth. 
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