The Lunar Near Year, also known as Spring Festival or Chinese New Year, falls on January 22nd this year and we welcome in the year of the Rabbit. Let’s take a look at some of the history, customs, and characteristics of this special holiday that is celebrated widely over the world.
Chinese Mythology and legend says that evil beasts known as Nian terrorised people at start of the New Year, destroying buildings and crops, and eating children in the night. One year, a deity descended to help the people, teaching them that the Nian were frightened of the colour red and of loud noises. To ward off the Nian, people hung red lanterns and red scrolls and they set off fire crackers and played drums. Legend has it this keeps people and villages protected and ushers in the new year safely.
Some legends attribute the Chinese Lion Dance to a retelling of the banishment of the Nian – featuring drums, red robes and firecrackers that divert and direct a fearsome character.
Lunar New Year is celebrated all over the world, with each country, region, and family bringing their own customs and traditions to holiday. Commonly there is the giving of gifts, sharing of feasts with special dishes, and spending time together as a family. Cleaning the house thoroughly and decorating it with lanterns, scrolls and paper cut-outs is also popular.
A favoured custom is to give the gift of an envelope containing money, particularly to children and the elderly. In some countries, this envelope can be white and in some it is red. This envelope is said to symbolise good fortune and prosperity for the year to come. Some families also gift candy, fruit such as apples and mandarins which symbolise peace and prosperity, and even (of course) chocolate!
2023: The Year of the Water Rabbit
Each Chinese zodiac is comprised of an Earthly quality (an animal) and a Heavenly quality (an element), meaning that for each of the twelve zodiac signs there are actually 5 variants: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Each element has its own characteristics and strengths.
Water types are known for being intuitive, sensitive, and reflective. They are empathetic and introverted, enjoying their own company and the chance to exercise their incredible creativity and artistic ability. This is then paired with the Rabbit sign, which is said to possess gentle, compassionate, patient and exciting qualities. The result being that people born under this year will inherit characteristics from both Water and the Rabbit.
We at Alpes d’Or would like to wish everyone a happy Lunar New Year – may your year bring you good luck, great adventures, and excellent memories.