Chinese New Year

Origin and traditions

Of all traditional Chinese celebrations, Chinese New Year is the most important one. It dates from the time of the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC-1100 BC) when people worshipped gods and ancestors at the end of the year and the beginning of the new year. It was only much later, that it became a festival to bid farewell to the old year and to welcome the new year. The date of the Chinese New Year is determined by the lunar calendar rather than the solar calendar. The Chinese New Year begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice on 21 December. According to the western solar calendar this is somewhere between January 21 and February 20. In 2019 the Chinese New Year begins on February 5.

The Chinese New Year heralds the beginning of spring and, therefore, it is also called ‘Spring Festival’. With songs and dance people welcome the return of Earth to life and the start of the ploughing and sowing season. In preparation of the New Year celebrations, people buy gifts, decorations, special food and new clothes. On New Year’s Eve (‘chuxi’) the houses are thoroughly cleaned and decorated with paper cut-outs spells and two lyrics expressing happiness, prosperity and longevity.

New Year is a family celebration. Regardless of how far people live from their hometown, they do their utmost to join the reunion dinner with the whole family on New Year’s Eve. Therefore, the entire China is on the move around Chinese New Year. Millions of people travel to their hometowns to celebrate New Year. They visit family, friends and acquaintances to wish each other the best for the New Year. It is a big welcoming party, not just at home with the family, but also on the streets. There is plenty of eating and drinking and a lot of music and hard fireworks.

The Year of the Pig

According to the Chinese Zodiac, February 5, 2019 is the start of the Year of the Pig. The Pig is the twelfth and last animal in the Chinese Zodiac, which consists of successively Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.
The origin of Chinese astrology goes back thousands of years and is even today practiced and consulted. In contrast to the western astrology, the Chinese astrology has nothing to do with planets or stars. Chinese ‘astrologers’ draw their horoscopes on the basis of the Chinese calendar, the Yin and Yang philosophy of light and darkness and the philosophy of the five elements of wood, fire, earth, metal and water.

People born under the sign of the Pig are, according to Chinese astrology, easy-going, honest and sincere, tolerant and courageous. They are cheerful and dedicated, hence having an extensive circle of friends. Sometimes they will be deceived, being somewhat naïve and too trusting. Home and hearth, family and friends are important for them. If necessary, they will stand up for themselves and act rather stubbornly, but actually they do not like competition and quarrels. Pigs are just social animals.

Famous people born in the Year of the Pig are:
Albert Schweitzer, Alfred Hitchcock, André van Duyn, Angela Groothuizen, Anny Schilder, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bryan Adams, Carl G. Jung, de Dalai Lama, David Bowie, Diederik Samsom, Elton John, Ernest Hemingway, Henry Ford, Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton, Johan Cruijff, Julie Andrews, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Koningin Maxima, Luciano Pavarotti, Rafael van der Vaart, Reinour Oerlemans, Richard Krajicek, Robin van Persie, Ronald Reagan, Sanne Wallis de Vries, Stephen King, Steven Spielberg, Sylvana Simons, Thomas Jefferson, Wendy van Dijk, Woody Allen….

What animal are you?

On the basis of your birth date, you can determine which animal you are according to Chinese astrology. The following table gives an overview of the years 1900 – 2031. Because the Chinese New Year starts in late January or early February, you should further search on the internet, in case you were born in that period.

Animal Year of Birth
RAT 1900 1912 1924 1936 1948 1960 1972 1984 1996 2008 2020
OX 1901 1913 1925 1937 1949 1961 1973 1985 1997 2009 2021
TIGER 1902 1914 1926 1938 1950 1962 1974 1986 1998 2010 2022
RABIT 1903 1915 1927 1939 1951 1963 1975 1987 1999 2011 2023
DRAGON 1904 1916 1928 1940 1952 1964 1976 1988 2000 2012 2024
SNAKE 1905 1917 1929 1941 1953 1965 1977 1989 2001 2013 2025
HORSE 1906 1918 1930 1942 1954 1966 1978 1990 2002 2014 2026
GOAT 1907 1919 1931 1943 1955 1967 1979 1991 2003 2015 2027
MONKEY 1908 1920 1932 1944 1956 1968 1980 1992 2004 2016 2028
ROOSTER 1909 1921 1933 1945 1957 1969 1981 1993 2005 2017 2029
DOG 1910 1922 1934 1946 1958 1970 1982 1994 2006 2018 2030
PIG 1911 1923 1935 1947 1959 1971 1983 1995 2007 2019 2031