With the Christmas and New Year fun and games over and done with, for many people January can be rather blue and gloomy, leaving us feeling broke, nostalgic and deflated.
But the partying doesn’t have to be over. In fact, in Chinese culture, the celebrations are about to begin, and everyone is invited.
Chinese New Year takes place annually on the 31st of January and this year it will mark the beginning of the year of the horse. Taking over from the year of the snake in 2013, according to Chinese astrology, those born in the year of the horse are active and energetic.
Unlike most countries, Chinese celebrations take place at the end of January instead of the beginning. The calendar used in most parts of China is the lunar calendar which is based on the phases of the moon which has 12 cycles.
Traditionally, on New Year’s Day, young children are given red ‘Lai-see’ envelopes which contain money believed to bring good luck for the coming year. At the beginning of the festive season fireworks are lit and bamboo sticks or firecrackers are burnt in order to get rid of any evil spirits. According to Chinese legend, it is of bad luck to use a broom or kill animals for food. The celebrations run right through till the 15th day of the first month, ending with the Lantern Festival where people carry lanterns out in to the streets to take part in the parade.
With one in six people from around the world celebrating Chinese New Year, it would be hard to miss the upcoming celebrations. Cities up and down the UK celebrate the New Year every year with public festivities which include parades, artists, traditional craft and food stalls as well as plenty of activities to get involved in. Chinese New Year in London hosts some of the biggest celebrations outside of Asia, occupying Trafalgar Square, Chinatown and Shaftesbury Avenue.
Celebrations in Birmingham are to be kicked off with Lord Mayor, Mike Leddy and the festival will include martial arts demonstrations, a lion’s dance and a fireworks display. Liverpool’s Chinatown will also be celebrating with lantern making workshops, orchestra performances and dragon parades.
So why not enjoy your January and celebrate New Year with a cultural twist? Kung Hei Fat Choy!