It’s the Year of the Rat Again!

Chinese New Year (CNY) or the Spring Festival, also the Lunar New Year or chunjie, is celebrated annually on a date between 21 January and 20 February.

Gong Xi Fa Cai!! Happy Chinese New Year!!!

Chinese New Year (CNY) or the Spring Festival, also the Lunar New Year or chunjie, is celebrated annually on a date between 21 January and 20 February. CNY Day is the first day of the Chinese Lunar Calendar, it falls on 25 January in 2020, and the celebrations will last till 8 February. The date marks the end of winter, and the beginning of spring and the planting season, and signifies new beginnings. CNY is also celebrated in other South-East Asian countries including Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia. In Korea, the lunar new year or Seollal, is usually on the same date as CNY. CNY is however not a holiday in many Western nations, including the US, Canada, Australia and UK.

Every Chinese year is associated with one of the twelve (12) zodiac animals which include the Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig, Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, and Sheep. The Chinese zodiac system is strongly linked with fortune telling, it influences important decisions like when or who to marry, have a child, or what career to choose. Each of the 12 zodiac animals represents each Chinese year; hence, every 12 years, a complete cycle is made. 2020 is the Year of the rat; the next years of the rat are in 2032 and 2044. The good attributes of each animal is associated with the year for persons born in the year of the animal. The rat for example, is believed to signify sensitivity, success, and prudence and it is believed that individuals born in the year of the rat will enjoy a good and organized life of financial abundance and sufficiency.

Family Reunion
Family Reunion

The festival is celebrated with prayer to Chinese gods, including the ancestors, for a good planting and harvest season. The celebration is strongly associated with the colour red, believed to have the potential to drive away evil. People therefore decorate their houses in red, and some will wear red clothes and/or underwear the entire year of their zodiac year. Children receive lucky money from elders in red envelopes called hongbao; they are required to perform 3 kowtows (bowing to the floor) to the elders when receiving this.  Hongbao can be given by superiors to subordinates as well, but not the other way round. Married couples can also give to their unmarried friends to transfer some luck. At midnight on CNY eve, tonnes of firecrackers are set off to welcome the new year based on the myth that the firecrackers scare off monsters and bad luck. Showering, sweeping or throwing out garbage, cutting of hair, arguing, breaking things and using unlucky words are forbidden practices during CNY, as they are believed to cause the loss of good luck. There are also several customs and myths around greetings, family visits and dinner sitting arrangements during CNY. A person’s Chinese nominal age increases by one year during the spring festival irrespective of their real birthdays.

The standard greeting during CNY is ‘Happy New Year’ which can vary in different Chinese dialects and include ‘gong xǐ fā cái’ or ‘xīn nián kuài lè. Some also use the ‘Happy Spring Festival’ or ‘chūn jiē kuài lè’ greeting. Whichever one you choose, don’t forget to wish your Chinese friends, colleagues and neighbours ‘Happy New Year’.

Tags: Chinese, Festivals, CNY, Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year, Spring Festival, Zodaic, chunjie

Further Readings
Chinese Zodiac

21 Things You Didn’t Know About Chinese New Year

Happy New Year in Chinese and Other Greetings


The Year of the Rat is the first in the Chinese zodiac cycle.


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