When is Chinese New Year in 2019 ?
Chinese New Year starts on February 5th of 2019 and ends on January 25th of 2020 and is the Earth Pig Year.
Chinese New Year starts on the second or third new moon, after the winter solstice (depending on the number of new moons between the two winter solstices).
The Chunyun period (Lunar New Year) starts with 15 days before February 5th of 2019. Statistically, 20% of the planet’s population celebrates the New Year on February 5th. It must be mentioned that, usually, this is not a fixed date and it falls between January 15th and February 16th.
According to the traditional calendar, a Chinese year has 12 months, like the Gregorian calendar, but shorter. The remaining days are recovered in the 13th month, which gets added from time to time, in order to match the movement of the Sun with the Moon’s.
A zodiacal cycle has 60 years and is composed by mixing the 10 Tian-Gan (celestial stems) with the 12 Di-Zhi (earthly branches).
The celestial stems are the five basic elements – wood, fire, earth, metal, water, combined with the 2 basic principles of Chinese philosophy – yin and yang. All these are then combined with the earthly branches, specifically, the zodiacal signs: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.
Calendar of Most Important (Festival) Events of Chinese New Year 2019
The Laba Festival
In China, according to the lunar calendar, December is also known as the La month. This is why the Laba Festival takes place (this date, according to the occidental calendar, is January 13th of 2019) on December 8th. This traditional celebration is considered a prologue to the Spring Festival.
For the Chinese, Laba – the 8th day of the last lunar month – represents the “golden eight”, which refers to the beginning of the traditional activities for celebrating the Chinese New Year.
On this day a special rice porridge, called Laba Zhou, is eaten, which contains glutinous rice, red beans, proso millet, Chinese Sorghum, peas and other ingredients, such as dry dates, chestnut, walnuts, almonds, nuts, lotus dry seeds etc.
The aromas variate from one region to another. In the north, this is a type of desert, with added sugar, while in the south, salt and vegetables are added into the composition.
This tradition has its roots in the Buddhist faith. It is said that when Sakyamuni left home in order to obtain virtue, he fainted in the middle of the road, because of hunger and fatigue. A shepherdess who was traveling in the area saved him and cooked for him a porridge made of sticky rice and nuts.
Then, Sakyamuni sat under a linden tree to meditate, after which he founded Buddhism. This is why, the believers have formed the habit of cooking Laba Zhou dish, as a way of evoking this story.
The Spring Festival – February 6th of 2019
At Chinese, the New Year of 2019 – marked with great pomp according to the lunar calendar – is celebrated through a series of holidays, starting with the “Spring Festival” – a day of thanksgiving and of gratitude for all the good things received during the year that just passed.
THE LEGEND OF THE CHINESE NEW YEAR
The Chinese New Year is known as the Spring Festival because it is celebrated at the beginning of spring. Its origin is ancient. It is said that, long ago, the term “NIAN”, which in the modern Chinese language means only “year”, was the name of a monster that used to eat people before the beginning of the New Year.
One of the legends claims that the NIAN monster had a mouth so big, he could swallow more people at once. However, one fine day, an old man came to rescue the frightened people, offering to defeat the monster.
The old man told the monster: “I’ve heard you have a very big mouth. I wonder if you could also swallow other creatures from this earth beside humans, which are not a pray for your might?” and thus, the monster changed his “culinary” habits.
After this, the old man vanished, riding the NIAN beast. Later, the people found out he was an immortal god. After the monster left, the people started to enjoy a peaceful life again.
Before he left, the old man told the men that every year they should place at the windows and doors red paper to scare off the NIAN beast, in case he will try to return, because red is the color that scares off the monster the most.
Since then, the tradition of the day when NIAN monster was banished is kept from generation to generation. The term “GUO NIAN”, which also means “to escape the NIAN” has become in the present “to celebrate the (New) Year”, because the word “guo” has two meanings in the Chinese language.
To attract luck on the New Year’s Eve, the house must be cleaned and decorated with red, yellow or orange flowers, you must wear something new and red and, also, you need to have 6 or 9 golden coins in the pocket or wallet.
Lantern Festival – February 19th of 2019
The Lantern Festival is one of the most important five traditional festivals in China and, in 2019, it is celebrated on February 19th. Always on the date of 15th of the first month of the lunar calendar, this day brings the celebration of the Chinese New Year to its peak and, also, marks the end of the New Year festivals.
The Lantern Festival (also known under the name of Shangyuan Festival), or Yuan Xiao Jie Festival, as it called in the Chinese language, has many different origins.
The old men from Pingxi says that the Lantern Festival has its origins during the Xing Dynasty, more than 2000 years ago. During that time, the villages from that area were frequently attacked by gangs of thieves, and people were forced to hide in the mountains, to avoid meeting them.
Those who stayed behind to protect the village were using “fire balloons” as signals to transmit others that they can return to their homes.
Another legend claims that the Festival started during the Han Dynasty, when Emperor Hanmingdi heard of some monks who were lighting lampions in temples, to show their respects to Buddha, on the 15th day from the first month of the year. Being a big supporter of Buddhism, the emperor ordered that all the temples, houses and regal palaces do the same during that evening of the month.
All over China, only for the Festival, there are built lampion parks. People can admire during the day artistic pieces full of color, which, in the evening, become lit lampions with a charming glow.
The arrangements are so lovely that people will go for a walk just so they can enjoy the lampions or to take part in solving Lantern riddles, together with their families or friends.
In China, there many ways to celebrate the Festival. However, the lampions and yuanxiao are the most popular two elements and they became the festival’s symbols.
Yuanxiao, also called tangyuan, is a sticky dough made out of rice or wheat flour, shaped as balls with a filling in the middle. These can be boiled in water, steamed or fried. The round shape of the dough symbolizes the family communion.
The Dragon Dance
The Chinese people consider the dragon as being a sacred animal. For over 2000 years, the Dragon Dance is a form of traditional dance, becoming, in the present, a regular event during the Lantern Festival. The show is performed by a group of people, which carry every segment of the dragon, from head to tail, in a continuous line.
The Lion Dance
The Lion Dance is another form of traditional dance in the Chinese culture. During this dance, two artists imitate the lion movements, dressed in elaborate costumes, symbolizing the lion. Usually, the dance includes acrobatics.
Lantern Riddles are written directly on the lampions. During the festival, people can guess the solution, starting from a personage, a poem or a phrase. Regularly, the riddles have three parts: the riddle, an advice (if it’s about a person, thing, character or argument), and an answer.
In order to solve a riddle placed on a lampion, someone has to think of the profound significance of each character or word from the riddle. The one who solves most riddles is considered the most knowledgeable person from that year and place.