Did you know that 2021 is the Year of the Ox, according to Chinese tradition? That’s right – every year, one of the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac is chosen to represent the year ahead. With 2021 being the Year of the Ox, it’s believed that the year ahead will center on diligence, persistence, and honesty.
Aside from it being the Year of the Ox, there are countless unique traditions associated with the Chinese New Year – many of which extend well beyond Chinese zodiac animals! Here are just a few cool facts about this Chinese tradition.
The Chinese New Year is dated differently than the American New Year.
Here in the United States, we start and end our years on January 1st and December 31st But, in the Chinese New Year, the dates vary a bit – even on the yearly basis! That’s because the Chinese New Year is dictated by the Chinese lunar calendar. Even still, the Chinese New Year always falls somewhere between January 21st and February 20th. In 2021, the New Year falls on February 12, 2021, and lasts until January 31, 2022.
A New Year’s Eve dinner is served with traditional dishes.
For the Chinese, New Year’s Eve dinner is very culturally important. Typically, this is a family reunion dinner, and for that reason, New Year’s Eve dinner is almost always served at home, instead of a fancy restaurant. During the feast, a few signature dishes are served. Fish and dumplings, two very important dishes, signify prosperity. Sweet rice balls, called Tangyuan, signify family togetherness. Other dishes are served based on personal preference.
“Shou sui” is practiced to scare away evil spirits.
In America, it’s common to stay up late to celebrate the arrival of the new year. In China, this is also common – but for a different reason. “Shou sui,” or “after the New Year’s dinner,” involves staying up all night after the New Year’s feast in order to scare away a mythical beast called the “Year,” which will harm people, animals, and property. Staying up late and setting off fireworks is another way to scare away the Year and ensure that your family prospers during the New Year!
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