Chinese New Year is kicking off in just a few days (image: Shutterstock)
The Omicron Covid variant scuppered many of our New Year party plans earlier in January.
Chinese New Year 2022 has therefore come at the ideal time to lift all of our spirits.
Marking the beginning of new lunar year, it’s essentially China’s equivalent of Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year and Valentine’s Day wrapped up into one big festival lasting for more than two weeks.
So what date will Chinese New Year 2022 fall on, what animal of the Chinese Zodiac will this year be - and what activities and food can you expect to see at this time of year?
Here’s what you need to know.
When is Chinese New Year?
Chinese New Year 2022 is set to take place on Tuesday 1 February.
While we celebrated the solar new year almost a month ago, the lunar year has not yet finished.
In fact, it’s been running since 12 February 2021 and only comes to a close on Monday 31 January 2022.
While solar calendars are in popular and legal usage across much of the world, many people in China and South East Asia follow the more traditional lunar calendar.
Whereas solar calendars are based on the earth’s passage around the sun, lunar ones base their timings off the different phases of the moon.
It means months tend to be either 29 or 30 days in length, and years are between 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar calendar.
While this might seem like a very foreign concept, most cultures around the world have used lunar calendars at some point in their history.
Even the Gregorian calendar, which is now in common usage after its introduction in Europe almost 450 years ago, has its origins in the lunar cycle.
What animal will Chinese New Year 2022 be?
Every new year introduces another animal from the Chinese zodiac and its attributes.
This system is believed to have been installed in a period during which animal worship was widely practiced in China.
The zodiac system has been going for an estimated 2,000 years and remains central to Chinese culture.
Many people in China use it to determine their fortune for the year and even who they should marry.
There are 12 animals in all:
2022 will be the year of the tiger.
It means people born this year will share the tiger’s characteristics.
- Vigor and ambition
- Daring and courage
- Enthusiasm and generosity
- A sense of justice and a commitment to help others for the greater good
How is Chinese New Year marked?
There are four main elements of Chinese New Year festivities:
- Little Year: takes place one week before Chinese New Year and is a day of memorial and prayer
- New Year’s Eve: a day of reunions and gift-giving
- Spring Festival (11 days long): a festival of family activities, prayers and feasting
- Lantern Festival (5 days long): celebrates family reunions and society, and also includes the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day. Chinese people mark the event by making lanterns and lighting them
Each day during this period involves different activities and sees different food and drink items consumed.
For example, on the first day of Chinese New Year, firecrackers are set off and people look at their fortunes for the year ahead.
Typical food items across all of these events include spring rolls, dumplings, noodles, steamed fish or chicken and rice cakes.
Chinese New Year is also marked all over the world.
Celebrations take place in towns and cities across the UK but the centre of festivities is in London, which hosts one of the largest parties outside of China itself.
In Chinatown and Trafalgar Square, you can catch parades featuring traditional Chinese lions and tigers, acrobatic shows, speeches, traditional food and drink as well as firecrackers.
How to say happy new year in Chinese
There are two major languages in China - Mandarin (largely spoken on the mainland) and Cantonese (mostly spoken in and around Hong Kong).
Both languages use three different phrases for wishing someone a happy new year.
- ‘Xīnnián hǎo’ which directly translates as ‘New Year goodness’
Mandarin: 新年好 or “sshin-nyen haoww”
Cantonese: 新年好 or “sen-nin haow”
- ‘Gōngxǐ fācái’ which means ‘happiness and prosperity’ in English
Mandarin: 恭喜发财 or “gong-sshee faa-tseye”
Cantonese: 恭喜發財 or “gong-hey faa-chwhy”
- ‘Bùbù gāoshēng’ which translates into English as ‘on the up and up’
Mandarin: 步步高升 or “boo-boo gaoww-shnng”
Cantonese: 步步高陞 or “boh-boh goh-sshi”
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