Chinese New Year 2017: the Fire Rooster

Hi everyone and welcome to the Chinese New Year of the red fire Rooster!

The Chinese year is based on the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar (as opposed to the purely solar calendar of the West) and the date of the New Year changes each year so that it falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. Celebrations for the New Year, or Spring Festival, last 15 days, ending on the full moon with the spectacular Lantern Festival, when hundreds of lanterns are lit and launched into the sky.

Each year is governed by one of the twelve astrological signs of the Chinese zodiac and this year is that of the Rooster, which is associated strongly with integrity, efficiency and practicality – quite a different energy to the surprising and volatile Monkey of last year!

Sharing the most important feast of the year with family, friends and ancestors is one of the highlights. Particular foods are chosen to represent good wishes for the months ahead, such as fish (prosperity), dumplings (wealth), sweet rice dumplings (reunion & family), noodles (longevity & happiness) and oranges (luck & fullness).

Red envelopes, ‘Hongbao’, containing money are traditionally given to children and tucked under their pillows to bring them good fortune and happiness in the coming year and pilgrimages are made to ‘wishing trees’, where wishes are written on red paper, tied onto oranges and tossed into the trees. It’s also the time to clean and decorate the house to make welcome room for the new year’s good luck.

London hosts one of the largest celebrations outside Asia with dragon dances, parades and feasting. Be sure to wrap up warm in lucky red clothing to ward of the ferocious mythical monster Nian.

Wishing you all ‘Xīnnián hǎo’ (New Year goodness)!


Image by Ting W. Chang from Taipei, Taiwan (Lantern Festival) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons