2020 - It's Time for the Rat

This blog is a nod to our Chinese colleagues who work tirelessly for us and lend their support with innovative products.

The Chinese New Year or Spring Festival is determined by the date of the Lunar New Year where celebrations take place on the new moon between 21st January -20th February.

25th January 2020 sees the start of the Year of the Rat, an animal, which, for most has connotations of dirt and menace, yet for the Chinese it symbolises wealth and the beginning of a new day. Let’s drink to that………

Each Chinese New Year is characterised by one of 12 animals that appear in the Chinese zodiac, where by contrast, Western culture sees the significance of the Zodiac by the month.

CNY celebrations are marked with red lanterns, dragon and lion dances and whilst it is believed that the loud beats of the drum and the deafening sounds of the cymbals, together with the energetic dancing can evict bad or evil spirits, the history is a little less frivolous.

According to legends the beginning of the Chinese New Year started with a beast called the Nian, which ate villagers at night. One year the villagers went into hiding from the Nian but one brave old man named Yanhuang, announced he would stay the night to revenge the tyrant with red paper and firecrackers. While many thought he was a gift sent to save them all, Yanhuang had simply realised the beast was frightened of the colour red and loud noises. From that moment on Firecrackers were used to ward off Niam who retreated to the mountains for ever.

Red lanterns and scrolls we see today resulted from this myth and the tradition of the red pockets (envelopes) filled with lucky money are typically given to the young and single at this time. Red has become the emblem of joy, and also symbolizes virtue, truth and sincerity. The sound of the Chinese word for "red” is also believed to reflect wealth.

With traditions there are also superstitions, which will dictate one’s success for the following 12 months. Household chores during these celebrations should be avoided as these household duties of washing and sweeping should have been conducted ahead in order to cleanse the home of evil spirits.

As with all cultures such festivities  focus on the family and while we in the West suffer a few days of indulgent food and drink to mark our Christmas and New Year  occasions, the Chinese embark on  rather more with a 15 day period of celebrations, with food playing a major part in the proceedings. I will be looking at the statistics for Gym membership in China in late February and March!

At this time we should remember all those affected by the frightening events unfolding in China and hope that the coronavirus is controlled and casualties are minimised.



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