Wednesday 29 January 2014

2014, the Year of the Horse

“Chinese New Year” or the “Lunar New Year” is celebrated on the first day of the first month of the Chinese calendar: the date corresponds to the new moon. It is the beginning of the Spring Festival which lasts for 15 days and ends with the Lantern Festival, on the full moon date. Because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar (ie based on both the annual cycle of the Sun and the regular cycle of phases of the moon), the date of the Chinese New Year in the Gregorian calendar varies from one year to another and usually falls between January 21st and February 20th. This year it falls on January 31st.

Chinese New Year is officially celebrated in China (7 bank holidays), Taiwan (at least 5 days), Hong Kong and Macau (3 days), and a number of Asian countries influenced by the Chinese culture or with significant Chinese populations, such as Singapore, Malaysia, The Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Every year, two weeks before the celebration, an intense migration period starts. People converge on train stations, bus stations and airports to travel back to their native countries.

It is the most important celebration of the year in China. People gather with their families as we do in Western countries during the Christmas period. A ritual is followed to end the previous year and to prepare the beginning of the new one. The New Year’s dinner symbolises family reunion, prosperity, happiness and good health. It is a true food feast where dishes follow one another and never seem to end. On the menu, you will find the Niangao, a traditional rice cake, fish in many different guises and various types of dumplings. People also usually eat duck, chicken, crab and jellyfish among other things.

During Chinese New Year celebrations people wear red clothes, they decorate their windows and doors with poems on red paper and red strips of paper. They also give children "lucky money" in red envelopes. Red symbolizes fire, which according to legend can drive away bad luck. The Lion and Dragon dances (which are also supposed to drive away evil spirits) are also part of the celebration and offer an extraordinary and colourful show to the public.

The Chinese Zodiac has 12 animal signs and each year is represented by a different animal. 2014 is the Year of the Horse. In Chinese astrology, this animal is spirited and independent. It is also regarded as a worker, which shines with its creativity and constantly needs to move forward.

In the UK, Chinatowns in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield will welcome the Year of the Horse on or near 2nd February. London is said to host the largest Chinese New Year celebrations outside Asia although the festivities only last for two days. Do not miss the parade in central London at 10 am. The dragons and lions will be snaking along the Charing Cross Road and Shaftesbury Avenue. In Trafalgar Square, artists from China will offer impressive performances. Of course, London's Chinatown and its almost eighty restaurants will offer succulent traditional cuisine, delightful decorations and a wide range of performances from local artists. On the Chinese New Year's Eve, the London Eye will be lit red and gold in celebration from 5.30pm. For more information about the celebrations in London, visit the London China Town website:

The Aplingo team wishes you a happy Chinese New Year! And please feel free to contact us if you need any translation services in Chinese!

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