Happy Chinese New Year

So this year is apparently the year of the rat – the inspiration for today’s doodle.

Rupert the Rat

Here’s a few facts about Chinese New Year

  1. There is no set date for Chinese New Year: According to the Lunar calendar, the Spring Festival is on January 1st and lasts until the 15th (the full moon). Unlike western holidays such as Christmas or Thanksgiving , when you calculate it with the solar (Gregorian) calendar, the date is all over the place.  Chinese New Year ranges from January 21 to February 20.
  2. The Spring Festival was originally a ceremonial day to pray to the gods for a good planting and harvest season. Originally an agrarian society, the success of the nation depended on the success of the harvest.
  3. More fireworks are set off on this date than any other.  Firecrackers are supposed to scare off monsters and bad luck. So people stay up on Chinese New Year’s Eve and set off firecrackers at midnight. In the morning, firecrackers are used again to welcome the new year and good luck.
  4. The most important part of Chinese New Year is the family reunion, the celebration is the cause of the largest global migration each year. Everyone should come back home for the New Year’s Eve dinner, but in modern China, most elderly parents live in rural villages while their children work in the cities. The migration back home and to go on vacation is called chunyun (春运), or Spring Migration.
  5. A bit like Switzerland with no noise creating activities on a Sunday the celebration has some strange traditions – showering isn’t allowed New Year’s Day nor is sweeping and throwing out garbage. This is to make sure you don’t wash away the good luck!  On the other hand, there’s a day before the Spring Festival dedicated to cleaning. This day is to sweep the bad luck away and make room for the good.

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