牛年快乐 - Niú nián kuài lè
Chinese New Year is well known all over the world. But what is it really about? We celebrated our first CNY in China and got to experience it ourselves.
There is no set date for Chinese New Year, as it depends on the Lunar calendar, so it can range from January 21 to February 20. This is why it is also called Spring Festival: the coldest days are over and Spring will come soon (hopefully…).
According to the lunar calendar, 12th February 2021 marked the first day of the New Lunar Year; the Year of the Ox.
Chinese New Year is celebrated traditionally with family during a 15 day long National Holiday. This causes one of the biggest human migrations in the world: people from cities all over China travel by bus, train, car or plane to their family back home.
Almost everything closes down over Chinese New Year, the normally buzzing country literally comes to a standstill. So gifts are bought well in advance, and kitchen’s are well stocked for festive meals.
While many cities have banned big fireworks celebrations due to safety reasons, it’s still a time where more fireworks are set off than anywhere else around the world with New Year. But it’s not one big firework event at midnight, like we are used to. Spread across town they go off all evening, night and in some cases the next day and following days. For days and days you can hear hisses and booms in the distance, where relatives, neighbours and friends are meeting and wishing each other a happy new year.
We celebrated CNY at home with friends, making our own dumplings. Making dumplings together is a common family & friend activity in Chinese houses, and for a good reason! It is a very nice way to socialise and prepare dinner together without bumping into one another in the kitchen. Everyone brought a little bit of self-made filling, we provided sufficient wrappers and with a little YouTube video on the background showing us at least 10 very creative ways to fold Dumplings, we could let the fun begin!
And with a private fireworks show on campus and a tasty Dutch home-made apple-pie with Chinese Ox (牛) as dessert, we had a wonderful start of the year of the Ox.
If only we had been told a little sooner about the 3 things you are not supposed to do on the first day of the new year since this washes away good luck: shower, clean the house and throw away the garbage… Exactly the things we do the day after a home-party. Does it count that we did not clean that well??
We wish everyone a happy and prosperous Year of the Ox!