Celebrating the year of the Ox , 2021 kicks off on Feb 12th and ends on the 26th with this year rewarding hard work and wellness for all the signs.
While calling it the Chinese New Year is considered faux pas, presently this holiday is often referred to as the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year.
To begin, the fifteen day celebration observes specific customs with some shrouded in superstitions. For example they don’t shower, do laundry, clean or take out the trash for fear of letting out prosperity or washing away one’s good luck. Now some superstitions I can get down with. But given the LNY celebration lasts for fifteen days, I don’t know if I could handle the stink from not bathing for that long. For this reason I recommend you don’t take the interpretation literally.
Photo Valentin Petkov
Legend says the half-dragon, half-lion monster “Nian” comes out of hiding to attack people (especially children) during the Lunar New Year. Since his weakness is sensitive ears you’re likely to see people beating sticks together and setting off fireworks to scare him away. Futhermore, Nian is afraid of the color red so this color is worn for protection. In fact, receiving a red envelope with money inside is like a winning scratch off card! Since red symbolizes good fortune and joy, you’ll also find the color displayed predominantly throughout all the decorations.
Pre celebration activities
Now the year of the Ox 2021 pre celebration activities can begin as early as Dec 8th going through to Feb 10th. First there is the Laba festival which is always on the 8th day of the 12th lunar month. On this day it’s customary to eat Laba congee – rice porridge. The porridge is made with 8 ingredients and prepared like a dessert with adding sugar, or it may lean towards the salty side and include red beans.
Next is “sweeping away the dust” on Feb 4th. To begin with, the home is given a thorough cleaning. This event represents a wish to put away old things and bid farewell to the old year so you can welcome in the new one.
Preparing for the Spring Festival
Then from February 4th through the 10th the shopping begins in preparation for the festivities ahead. It includes buying food, and snacks, decorations and new clothes, kinda like what we do for Christmas.
New Years Eve (Feb 11, 2021)
Typically like the western family reunions, family members travel from all over to be together. The day involves putting up decorations, worship, sacrifices to ancestors, and a reunion dinner that includes customary to eat jau goks crispy dumplings. The shape of the dumplings are said to be similar to an old form of currency so having dumplings can bring prosperity into the new year.
In fact the day also includes staying up late to watch hesuipian classic films like “It’s a Mad, Mad, World and “A New Years Coin.”
Lastly the day ends with ringing the New Year Bell which is another way to drive away bad luck and bring in good fortune.
Photo Vernon Raineil Cenzon
New Years Day (Feb 12, 2021)
Ultimately it’s all about setting off fireworks and firecrackers before dinner. The louder they are the better your luck will be. Another festivity is attending a parade to watch the Lion and Dragon dances which is the perfect opportunity to sport your new clothes. The new clothes represent greetings and best wishes.
Day Two (Feb 13, 2021)
When married daughters visit their parents. `
Day Three – Seven (Feb 14-18, 2021)
This is the time to hang out with family and friends. Some may skip seeing family on the fourteenth because it’s a day prone for arguments. If you happen to be a single woman, this time may be met with trepidation. There’s no getting around the dreaded questions, “why aren’t you married yet.” In fact, it’s not uncommon for single women to avoid this topic from ever coming up by merely renting a boyfriend for the day. Yep, there’s an app for that. Also Feb 18th is the day that recognizes everyone’s birthday so this day becomes party central.
Day Eight (Feb 19, 2021)
Now eight is China’s lucky number. So this is the day businesses reopen so they can bring prosperity to their businesses through the year.
Photo Humphrey Muleba
Day Fifteen (Feb 26, 2021)
Lastly on Feb 26, 2021 is the lantern festival. On this day you can see glowing lanterns released into the sky or set adrift onto bodies of water.
When it comes right down to it celebrating the year of the Ox 2021 is about having fun with your family and friends. So most observe the customs that are most important to them.