On the night of January 24-25, Chinese New Year or Spring Festival was celebrated according to the Eastern calendar in China and nearby mainland countries, as well as in every Chinatown around the world. Congratulations!
The main date of the celebration changes each time in accordance with the lunar calendar and falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice on December 21 (approximately in the period from January 21 to February 20). In 2020, the Chinese open a new calendar on January 25, it is believed that it is from this moment that their year is updated, and not from January 1, as with the followers of the Gregorian calendar. The New Year’s celebration lasts for 16 days, starting from New Year’s Eve, and ends with a bright event — the Lantern Festival, in 2020 it will be held on February 8. The Chinese New Year is always characterized by a certain animal symbol and color: the upcoming 12-month cycle will take place under the sign of the Golden Metal Rat. By the way, the Buddhist New Year “Sagaalgan”, which will come soon after the Chinese One on the first spring new moon according to the lunar calendar — February 24, will also be in honor of the Metal Rat, but White.
It is generally believed that the history of the Chinese New Year holiday has more than 4,000 years, but it is still not known for sure when exactly such a tradition was born in China. According to some sources, it is associated with the period of the Shang Dynasty in the distant second millennium BC. Other researchers believe that the Chinese New Year has its roots in Ancient China with the ruling Song dynasty in the ninth century (presumably, it was at this time that the Chinese invented black powder, which is successfully used to this day in the manufacture of firecrackers, fireworks).
There are also many interesting legends associated with the Chinese Spring Festival, which formed the basis of the tradition of preparing and celebrating the New Year according to the Eastern calendar. So, from the mythology of China, we learn about the terrifying beast Nyan in the form of a bull with a lion’s head, living under water. The monster, whose name literally translates from Chinese as “year” or “new year”, has always terrified people towards the end of winter: it came out on land and caused unbearable suffering to Earth’s inhabitants and destroyed everything in its path. It took centuries for people to accidentally learn about the fear of a formidable beast before the red color, fire and noise. Since then, on the eve of the New Year, as a talisman against evil spirits, the Chinese people began to draw golden inscriptions with the characters “Duiliang” on red rectangular and square figures — they are also called “opposite paired couplets” with lines from Chinese poems about goodness and happiness and “Fu” in an inverted form as a symbol of the approach of a new, necessarily lucky one. An integral red attribute at the celebration is also Chinese paper lamps, better known as paper lanterns, which are placed and hung outside the house and on the streets. And the meeting of the Chinese New Year, of course, does not take place without bright, noisy pyrotechnics, launched according to certain rules.
Another interesting legend is connected with this New Year’s holiday, in particular, with the history of one of the main traditional treats “Laba konji” — a soup made of rice, nuts and beans, which is also known as “Buddha konji”. According to the Chinese legend, a girl from a remote village fed a tired and hungry Buddha with this soup, thus showing mercy to him, which marked the condescension of Enlightenment to the Buddha.
In many temples, temple fairs are held all 16 days of the holiday. And the Chinese sincerely believe that prayer in the temple in the New Year gives a special blessing, will bring happiness, success and prosperity in the coming year.
According to the Gregorian, Eastern, and Buddhist calendars, the New Year is, first of all, a family holiday with a deep philosophical meaning: at one table, all the relatives present unite with the spirit of their ancestors.
It is noteworthy that the Chinese people have one interesting similarity with the Russian tradition. China also has its own Old New Year, called the Small New Year, and is celebrated depending on the main New Year holiday around the end of January or February. By analogy with seeing off the Old New Year in Russia, the Chinese also respectfully and gratefully let go of their last year, representing his family, who goes to the heavenly emperor with a report on how each particular family spent the previous 12 months.