Published On: Fri, Jan 24th, 2020

Chinese New Year 2020: What will the Year of the Rat mean for you?


Chinese New Year dates vary slightly between years but the festival usually falls during the period from January 21 to February 20 in the Gregorian calendar. The 2020 Chinese New Year falls this Saturday, January 25, with Year of the Rat festivities lasting until Saturday, February 8.

While most people have heard of Chinese New Year, the event is usually only associated with fireworks and food.

However, Chinese New Year is actually an expansive celebration of culture and life.

Chinese New Year is celebrated by more than a billion people around the world.

To get ready for celebrations marking the Year of the Rat, the didactics team at leading language learning app Babbel have revealed some of the more unusual aspects about the annual cultural event.

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Chinese New Year 2020

Chinese New Year 2020: The festival falls this Saturday, January 25 (Image: Getty)

Chinese New Year 2020

Chinese New Year 2020: The event is usually only associated with fireworks and food (Image: Getty)

2020 welcomes in the Year of the Rat:

Each Chinese year is represented by a different animal, with 2020 ushering in the Year of the Rat.

Anyone born in this year are supposedly optimistic and energetic in character.

The Year of the Rat also has an elemental symbol assigned to the occasion according to a 12-year cycle, with

five elements in total: Earth, Water, Fire, Metal and Wood.

2020 is part of the Metal cycle, making it an Metal Rat Year, which occurs only once every 60 years.

The year in which you were born is also considered to determine a number of factors in your life, including lucky numbers and flowers.

Depending on a person’s belief in feng shui, the year in which a person is born is thought to affect the way a person should decorate their house, with various colours and geographical directions capable of providing prosperity.

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The Chinese New Year possibly originated with fighting ancient beasts:

The Chinese New Year dates back to the 14th century BC.

One popular myth states the ancient origins of the festival relate to a massive beast called the Nian (the Mandarin word for “year”).

Once every year, the Nian would leave its mountain home and attack the nearby villages, stealing crops and sometimes children.

Fortunately, the villagers discovered the mythical monster was scared away by loud sounds, fire and the colour red – the colour central to the New Year celebrations.

These mythological origins, then, say the holiday was created to deter the Nian.

However, while this is often regarded as an ancient myth, there is actually no written evidence of the story before the 20th century.

Chinese New Year 2020 Year of the rat

Chinese New Year 2020: hinese New Year is actually an expansive celebration of culture and life (Image: Getty)

Chinese New Year creates epic migrations:

Traveling during the Chinese New Year holidays is widely considered to be a chore.

The annual event has been termed the Chunyun period, and it is the largest annual human migration in the world.

In 2017, the authorities in China worked to handle an estimated 3 billion trips by land, sea, rail and air over a 40-day period.

Those who do not travel instead watch China Central Television’s dramatic New Year’s Gala Show, the most-viewed event on television.

Chinese New Year is the most explosive holiday:

China is famous for being the creator of fireworks, and the country remains the largest producer of them.

China does not export all of them, meaning it has one of the largest fireworks displays in the world on Lunar New Year’s Eve.

Originally, exploding bamboo, or pao chuk, was used during Chinese New Year because when bamboo is

lit on fire, the wood expands and eventually bursts with a bang.

When black powder was invented, it was stuffed into the bamboo for an even louder and brighter explosion.

Eventually, paper casings replaced bamboo to make firecrackers, which quite literally exploded in popularity and are used all over China to celebrate Chinese New Year.

However due to the dangers posed by irresponsible use of firecrackers, there have been unpopular moves in the past few years to start banning the sale of fireworks.

Year of the rat statue

Chinese New Year 2020: Each Chinese year is represented by a different animal, with 2020 ushering in the Year of the Rat (Image: Getty)

Cleaning is an important part of observing the New Year:

Another traditions slightly less explosive is cleaning the house during Chinese New Year.

In preparation for the New Year celebrations, people wipe away all the old dirt that has been cluttering their lives.

It is believed to a big relief to literally sweep away the remains of the year gone by.

But others believe you should refrain from cleaning much in the days following Chinese New Year to avoid sweeping away the good luck.

Year of the rat logo

Chinese New Year 2020: Anyone born in this part of the zodiac cycle are supposedly optimistic and energetic in character (Image: Getty)

The reunion dinner is central to Chinese New Year:

Over the 15 days of festivities, Chinese New Year is filled with various traditions, from the opening fireworks to the closing Lantern Festival.

However, the most important ritual of all takes place the night before the new year.

The annual reunion dinner sees multiple generations of a family gather together.

Often, the meal comprises eight different dishes, because the number eight is considered a symbol of prosperity in China.

Courses generally include chicken, pork, fish, noodles and dumplings.

Chinese New Year design

Chinese New Year 2020: 2020 is part of the Metal cycle, making it an Metal Rat Year (Image: Getty)

Other lunar New Years celebrated around the world:

The lunar New Year is strongly associated with China, but there are also celebrations in various other parts of Asia.

Vietnam, Korea, Tibet and Mongolia all have lunar holidays that begin on the same day as Chinese New Year.

Japan also hosts some events during this time, but the country has officially now observed New Year’s Day on January 1 for more than a century.

While China gets the most attention because of its massive population and the various celebrations all around the world, each of these other Lunar New Years comes with its own set of traditions reflecting the country’s culture and heritage.



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