Celebration of the Lunar New Year, often referred to as Chinese New Year, is a long and popular tradition across Asia and increasingly across the globe in cities and countries that are home to Chinese diaspora.
Chinese New Year is one of the world's most prominent and celebrated festivals and is a major holiday in China and Far East Asia, that technically runs for a number of days pre and post Chinese Luna New Year’s Eve.
Chinese New Year is associated with several myths and customs and traditionally is a time to honour gods and ancestors. Regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the New Year vary widely, though there are many popular traditions and customs, such as the Reunion Dinner, held on the evening preceding Chinese New Year's Day when families gather and that of homes being thoroughly cleaned before New Year, to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for incoming good luck.
Other customs include the decoration of windows and doors with red paper cuts (decorations) and couplets (poems), conveying themes that include good fortune, happiness, wealth, and longevity. Perhaps the two most widely known customs are the lighting of firecrackers (despite being banned in many cities) and giving of red packets, or envelopes, hóngbāo in Mandarin, lai see in Cantonese and âng-pau in Hokkiena, a monetary gift which is given during holidays or special occasions.
In conjunction with traditions and celebrations of New Year, there is of course the all important astrological impact of a new year. Coming from the twelve year cycle of the animal zodiac: Snake, Horse Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig, Rat/Mouse, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit and Dragon.
On Tuesday 5th February we officially welcome the year of the Pig, specifically an Earth Pig, comprising two elements, water and earth. A mixture that can create mud and according to some we are in for an unsettled and unclear year, that will not be straightforward.
Celebrate Chinese New Year in London!
Whether a believer of the astrological impact of a new Lunar Year or not, there are lots of interesting events and activities taking place across London to mark the New Year:
- Watch cutting-edge Chinese-language films and director Q&As with the Chinese Visual Festival at BFI Southbank. 19 Jan-2 Feb
- Experience Chinese New Year in London celebrationswith a colourful parade, food stalls, fun activities and vibrant performances across Chinatown and the West End. 10 Feb
- Discover what’s to come during the Year of the Pig at Hakkasan, where traditional fortune cookies are transformed into luxurious fortune macarons. 24 Jan-28 Feb
- Indulge in a special menu featuring delicacies such asSzechuan three-style mushroom at Michelin-starred Yauatcha. 28 Jan-24 Feb
- Indulge at the Good Earth in Knightsbridge or visit London outpost of Hong Kong’s famed Duddells
Wishing you all a happy and prosperous new year!