Year of the Ox

By Maya Potter.

Strength ~ Determination ~ Steadiness

Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is an annual celebration based on the lunar calendar and begins when the new moon rises anywhere between the 21st January and the 20th February.

This year the celebration will take place on Friday 12th February.

The Chinese calendar rotates in 60 year cycles based on 12 earthly branches, with each year relating to an animal sign. There are also 5 element years — wood, fire, earth, metal and water. This year is the Year of the Metal Ox, for the first time since 1961. The last Year of the Ox was 2009 with the element Earth.

Celebrations last for 16 days, starting from Chinese New Year’s Eve and concluding with the Lantern Festival. In preparation for New Year, it is tradition to clean your home and put up red decorations and lanterns. Typically fish and dumplings are served as a family dinner to encourage prosperity in the coming year. It is also a custom for adults to give children red packets containing money, as a symbol of luck.

The festival period is usually the world’s largest annual human migration which sees millions of people travelling thousands of miles to get home for New Year celebrations. However this year, with global travel restrictions and lockdowns still in place, here’s some ideas of how to celebrate safely:

Cook a delicious Chinese New Year Feast

Why not try out some new recipes or recreate your favourite dish at home. Some ideas can be found here:

If cooking isn’t your thing, you can always support your local Chinese restaurant by ordering a takeaway meal too.

Make some handmade lantern decorations

Get creative and make some decorations to bring the feel of the Lantern Festival to your home.

There are lots of easy tutorials to follow, such as:

Attend a virtual event

There are lots of free, virtual events to attend over the Chinese New Year period. The Museum of London has a whole weekend of activities planned, from traditional puppeteering to dragon-mask making:

Burgh House in Hampstead will also be running a free online festival later in the month, including live Kung Fu, Chinese calligraphy as well as arts and crafts:

If you are celebrating the Spring Festival this year, we wish you a healthy and prosperous New Year and Happy Year of the Ox!