Kung Hei Fat Choy! May you prosper this Chinese New Year.
Chinese New Year is a huge festival among Chinese communities in London and across the world. The date falls on the first day of the lunar calendar. Chinese New Year is celebrated on the second new moon after the winter solstice, or the first new moon of the Chinese lunar calendar. This usually falls in late January or mid-February. The New Year season is also called the Spring Festival as it begins at the start of the spring term according to the Chinese calendar.
The legend surrounding Chinese New Year is as colourful and flamboyant as the festival itself. In ancient time people were tormented by a beast called a Nian. The Nian had a very large mouth, which it used to swallow numbers of people with a single bite. Finally, an old man found a way to trick the beast into disappearing.
People celebrate this event at Chinese New Year. In fact, Nian means “year” in modern Chinese, and people often say Guo Nian, meaning “celebrate New Year,” while the literal translation is “survive the Nian.”
As with our New Year, Chinese New Year can be seen as a time to start with a blank slate. Chinese families clean their homes, buy new clothing, and repay any debts in readiness for the New Year. This is also a time for people to connect with family and pay respects to their ancestors. On New Year’s Day, people visit family and friends to wish them luck, saying “Kung hei fat choy,” which means, “May you prosper.” Children receive red envelopes called “lai see” packets with gifts of money inside.
The Chinese calendar is represented by one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac each year. 2017 is the year of the Fire Rooster, which last fell in 1957. The Chinese people say that this year people will be more polite and less stubborn, but they will have the tendency to complicate things.
Chinese New Year 2017, the Year of the Rooster, falls on 28 January, with the Trafalgar Square and Chinatown celebrations taking place the following day.