The Chinese New Year is not celebrated on December 31st. In reality there isn’t a fixed date because it changes from year to year according to the traditional lunar calendar which is still precisely followed for the Chinese New Year celebrations.
It is also known as the Spring or Lunar New Year Festival which was celebrated as an auspicious harvest festival in ancient times. The Chinese New Year is considered the most important festival of the year and is extremely important for the Asian population. It lasts from the eve to the end of the Lantern Festival.
Families gather on the Eve of the Feast dinner, pray to Buddha and make offerings to ancestors and divinities. Among the most curious of things is the fact that the home is cleaned thoroughly applying an ancient ritual called "sweeping away the dust ": it is a way to renew the energy within one's own home, eliminating negativity to make room for prosperity, happiness and a goodness.
Let's discover all of the curiosities, celebrations and traditions of the Chinese New Year 2020.
Duration of the Chinese New Year 2020
The celebrations of the Chinese New Year, in addition to the various rituals that precede the festival, lasts a full 16 days. It’s a bit like Easter for us. New Year's Day never falls on the same day but always during the period between January 21st and February 20th.
What is the date of the Chinese New Year 2020? This year it falls on the 25th of January. Even the zodiac sign changes from year to year: if 2019 was the year of the pig, 2020 leaves room for the mouse which is an animal considered protector and bearer of material prosperity since ancient times.
The date that marks the beginning of the festivities is January 24th, which is the day that the various families traditionally gather together for dinner at home or at a restaurant.
On this evening everyone will return home and several generations will gather at the table to spend the evening of Eve of the New Year together. It is an opportunity to get together with those who live far away, tell anecdotes and try traditional lucky foods that have a symbolic meaning (a bit like lentils for us).
The traditional dishes that accompany the Chinese New Year's dinner are those that are well- known: ravioli and spring rolls are a must for New Year's Eve.
Customs for the Chinese New Year
The holiday was born from the ancient legend linked to the monster of Nian ("year" in Chinese) that emerged every 12 months in order to hunt humans and could only be defeated by loud noises and the color red. The Chinese New Year is a widespread thousand-year-old tradition celebrated all over the world.
We have already told you about some of curious Chinese New Year customs, from the preparatory stage with the extraordinary house cleaning, to the traditional dinner. There are several rituals that accompany the night of the eve, that this year will be celebrated on January 24th.
Among these is the ritual of exchanging red envelopes (the color of fortune) containing money: they are called hongbao and generally parents give them to the children who do not work and to the elderly who are retired as a symbol of good luck.
There is another tradition celebrated the night of the even, even though it is less common nowadays. The tradition is to await the dawn together to welcome the new year: it is called "shousui" and literally means "to watch the year go by “.
But the celebrations do not stop here. They last 15 days and end with the great Lantern Festival.
The first day of the Chinese New Year
The first day of the Chinese New Year is normally dedicated to relatives: one visits family members and exchanges greetings and well-wishes.
This custom has almost been completely replaced by smartphones: greetings and messages with relatives are exchanged via chat using emoticons because the younger generations lead a hectic life that usually has them engaged in different places and far from their country of origin.
In the squares and in the various Chinatowns around the world, New Year's Day is a great celebration characterized by ancient traditional dances: the lion dance and the dragon dance.
Hong Kong and Beijing usually put into plat several different initiatives that populate the public squares and parks such as the organisation of large ceremonies and traditional markets.
The Lantern Festival
If the Epiphany marks the end of the holidays for us, according to Chinese tradition, the festivities last up to 15 days after "the first of the year" marked on the lunar calendar. It is normally a two week long festival that ends with the great Lantern Festival that will be celebrated on February 8th.
This traditional event involves the lighting of lanterns of every shape and color that are hung, and that hover in the air or are left to float in the lakes, seas or rivers: it is truly an exciting spectacle that transforms into thousands of colored lights.
According to tradition, when you leave a lantern suspended in mid-air or floating on the water, you must make a wish. The ancient belief also says that when you "release" the lantern it also symbolises getting rid of the misfortunes and sorrows of the past year.
Celebrating the Chinese New Year 2020 in Italy
The Chinese New Year is considered a great tradition that is strongly felt throughout the Asian world and which is celebrated in all of Chinese communities from New York to London.
The is true also in Italy throughout the different Chinatowns of the Peninsula. Among the Italian cities that celebrate the Chinese New Year one in particular stands out - Milan: for the Chinese New Year the Confucius Institute in Milano will organize a series of shows, meetings and workshops to bring the city closer to Chinese culture, while via Sarpi will be decorated to party and will be the protagonist of the costume parade.
Prato is also a key player for the Chinese New Year celebrations. The city will schedule different events, fashion shows, music and fireworks. In Rome, instead, the Esquiline is the general headquarters of the celebrations.
In southern Italy the most famous cities that will be celebrating the Chinese New Year are Naples, Cagliari and Enna, although the official dates have not been published yet.
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