10 things you might not know about Chinese New Year

Wherever you are in the world, happy Chinese New Year!

1. The date of Chinese New Year is based on the Chinese lunar calendar and falls sometime in January or February each year. It falls on 19th February 2015 and celebrates the Year of the Goat (or Ram). 2016 will celebrate the Year of the Monkey.

2. Years in the Chinese calander are named after 12 different animals – the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Each animal is associated with a particular element – water, wood, fire or metal – and particular characteristics are associated with each animal and the people born during the year of that animal. People born in the Year of the Goat are characteristically kind, calm, thoughtful and honest.

3. You can wish someone happy new year in Chinese by saying xīnnián kuàilè (new year happiness!) or xīnnián hǎo (new year goodness!).

4. Chinese New Year is celebrated on the first day of the first month and the celebrations continue for two weeks.

5. As well as being celebrated in China and Taiwan, it is also marked among Overseas Chinese communities, and in Korea, Mongolia, Nepal, Bhutan, Vietnam and Japan.

6. Chinese New Year is a time when people return to their hometowns to celebrate with their families, so is not a good time to travel in places with large Chinese populations as everybody seems to be on the move.

7. During the festivities doors and windows are decorated with phrases related to happiness, wealth and longevity written or printed on red paper.

8. Before Chinese New Year people clean their houses thoroughly, which is believed to sweep away any bad luck. They also buy new clothes and shoes, and get their hair cut, all of which symbolise a fresh start.

9. On New Year’s Eve families have a big meal together. This may include fish, dim sum, dumplings and dessert.

10. On the first day of the New Year many people, especially Buddhists, abstain from eating meat, a practice which is thought to ensure a long life. The older members of the family present children and younger members with red envelopes of money, and people visit their elderly relatives.

Evening courses in Chinese

Cactus offers evening courses in Chinese Cantonese in London; next start dates are April and July 2015.

Courses are also available in Chinese Mandarin in London and across the UK; next start dates are April and July 2015.

Chinese courses in China

Cactus offers courses in Chinese Mandarin in China (Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai). Start dates are year-round.


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