Derbyshire: What is Chinese New Year and the Year of the Tiger?

We’re currently in the Year of the Tiger – but what is its significance?
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We’re currently entering into the Chinese New Year, which began on February 1st – so we can expect fireworks and Chinese lanterns galore for the next few days.

To be more specific, we are in the year of the Water Tiger, which last occurred from 1962-1963. In Chinese folklore, water represents a serene wisdom to the world around us, while the tiger represents a (somewhat contradictory) brash, outgoing attitude to the world.

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The earliest record of the concept of Chinese New Year comes from as far back as 1400BC. In legend, a monster known as “Nian” would the people of China at the dawn of every year. Nian was allegedly afraid of loud bangs and the colour of red – therefore, much of the Chinese New Year’s traditions are centred around these two things.

Chinese lanterns.Chinese lanterns.
Chinese lanterns.

How is Chinese New Year celebrated?

But what do people actually on Chinese New Year? A common tradition is the giving and receiving of red envelopes, which usually contain money. When translated, red envelopes given out on Chinese New Year are called “money warding off old age”.

As well as this, families and friends will often spend time with each other on Chinese New Year, often to eat traditional gourmet meals and the like. A common meal across China is dumplings, often served with garnishes and vegetables.

Of course, like the Gregorian New Year, fireworks and firecrackers are a staple of Chinese New Year. Chinese lanterns are also a tradition, but are discouraged due to their potentially devastating environmental and ecological impact.

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The Chinese calendar does not line up with the commonly-used Gregorian Calendar – hence the need for its own new year celebrations. As such, in the Gregorian Calendar, Chinese New Year takes place on a different date each year. In 2023, the Year of the Rabbit, it will commence on the 22nd of January.

Of course, if you like to celebrate it in your own way, you can – for example, you could get a Chinese takeaway from one of Derbyshire’s favourites.

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