Chinese New Year Theme
Chinese New Year, also called the Lunar New Year, is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. The festival begins on the first day of the first lunar month in the Chinese calendar, and ends on the 15th.
|Rat||February 19, 1996||February 7, 2008|
|Ox||February 7, 1997||January 26, 2009|
|Tiger||January 28, 1998||February 14, 2010|
|Rabbit||February 16, 1999||February 3, 2011|
|Dragon||February 5, 2000||January 23, 2012|
|Snake||January 24, 2001||February 10, 2013|
|Horse||February 12, 2002||January 31, 2014|
|Sheep||February 1, 2003||February 19, 2015|
|Monkey||January 22, 2004||February 8, 2016|
|Rooster||February 9, 2005||January 28, 2017|
|Dog||January 29, 2006||February 16, 2018|
|Pig||February 18, 2007||February 5, 2019|
Alongside the 12-year cycle of the animal zodiac there is a 10-year cycle of heavenly stems. Each of the ten heavenly stems is associated with one of the five elements of Chinese astrology: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. The elements are rotated every two years while a yin and yang association alternates every year. The elements are thus distinguished: Yang Wood, Yin Wood, Yang Fire, Yin Fire, etc. These produce a combined cycle that repeats every 60 years. For example, the year of the Yang Fire Rat occurred in 1936 and in 1996, 60 years apart.
Many confuse their Chinese birth-year with their Gregorian birth-year. As the Chinese New Year starts in late January to mid-February, the Chinese year dates from January 1 until that day in the new Gregorian year remain unchanged from the previous Gregorian year. For example, the 1989 year of the snake began on February 6, 1989. The year 1990 is considered by some people to be the year of the horse. However, the 1989 year of the snake officially ended on January 26, 1990. This means that anyone born from January 1 to January 25, 1990 was actually born in the year of the snake rather than the year of the horse.
The character in the title bar means 'Good Luck' or 'Good Fortune' and is one of the most popular Chinese characters used in Chinese New Year. It is often posted upside down (as done in this theme) on the front door of one's house or apartment. The upside down character means good luck came since the character for 'upside down' in Chinese sounds the same as the character for 'came.' So, yes, the character was deliberately shown upside down in this theme, and it's apparently a Chinese pun! (I have to take other people's word for it, however, since I don't know Chinese.)
The following is a list of beliefs that vary according to dialect groups or individuals.
- Opening windows and/or doors is considered to bring in the good luck of the new year.
- Switching on the lights for the night is considered good luck to 'scare away' ghosts and spirits of misfortune that may compromise the luck and fortune of the new year.
- Sweets are eaten to ensure the consumer a "sweet" year.
- It is important to have the house completely clean from top to bottom before New Year's Day for good luck in the coming year. (however, cleaning the house after New Year's Day is frowned upon)
- Some believe that what happens on the first day of the new year reflects the rest of the year to come. Asians will often gamble at the beginning of the year, hoping to get luck and prosperity.
- Wearing a new pair of slippers that is bought before the new year, because it means to step on the people who gossip about you.
- The night before the new year, bathe yourself in pomelo leaves and some say that you will be healthy for the rest of the new year.
- Buying a pair of shoes is considered bad luck amongst some Chinese. The word "shoes" is a homophone for the word for "rough" in Cantonese, or "evil" in Mandarin.
- Getting a hair-cut in the first lunar month puts a curse on maternal uncles. Therefore, people get a hair-cut before the New Year's Eve.
- Washing your hair is also considered to be washing away one's own luck (although modern hygienic concerns take precedence over this tradition)
- Sweeping the floor is usually forbidden on the first day, as it will sweep away the good fortune and luck for the new year.
- Talking about death is inappropriate for the first few days of Chinese New Year, as it is considered inauspicious.
- Buying books is bad luck because the word for "book" is a homonym to the word "lose".
- Avoid clothes in black and white, as black is a symbol of bad luck, and white is a traditional Chinese funeral colour.
- Foul language is inappropriate during the Chinese New Year.
- Offering anything in fours, as the number four (?), pronounced sì, can sound like "death" in Chinese.
Now, time for a quick shout out to everyone on Atlas Quest from China!
Here are all of the cities in China we've hit with letterboxes!