Lunar New Year & the Popular Symbols
What is Lunar New Year & How is it celebrated?
Lunar New Year (also known as Chinese Spring Festival or commonly called Chinese New Year) is typically celebrated in China and other Asian countries that begins with the first new moon of the lunar calendar and ends on the first full moon of the lunar calendar, 15 days later. The lunar calendar is based on the cycles of the moon, so the dates of the holiday vary slightly from year to year, beginning some time between January 21 and February 20 according to Western calendars. This year, Lunar New Year is on February 12, and it’s the year of the Ox.
Lunar New Year is usually celebrated by putting up decorations, eating reunion dinner with family on New Year's Eve, and giving red envelopes and other gifts to family and friends.
Popular symbols and their meanings
The sound of the Chinese word for pineapple is close to the sound of “good luck coming your way,” so the pineapple has become a popular traditional feng shui symbol of wealth, fortune, and prosperity. This is especially more so during Lunar New Year celebrations where people often decorate their homes or even public areas with pineapple decorations. You can even wear accessories or clothes decorated with pineapples!
Fish decorations are also very commonly seen during Lunar New Year. The reason for this is that the Chinese word for 'fish' sounds exactly the same as the Chinese word for 'abundance' which means having more than you need of something. By hanging up fish decorations Chinese people are hoping that in the New Year they will have wealth and prosperity.
Chinese characters for blessing or fortune
There are various Chinese characters that represent good fortune or blessings, with the characters 福(fu) being the most common one seen in decorations and jewellery. It is a traditional Chinese custom to paste the Chinese character “福” (Fu) on doors or around the house. Do not be surprised if you see the character being placed upside down too! Some people believe that turning Fu upside down is bringing the fortune in as the chinese for “Fu upside-down” is “Fu Dao” (福倒) which is similar sounding to “Fu arriving” (福到).
An ingot, or yuanbao, looks like a silver or gold boat shape with a little bump in the middle. These used to be the first type of money in ancient China. Today, many people display gold ingots to attract wealth into their home or office.
Tangerines and Oranges
Both of these fruits are important Lunar New Year symbols that represent abundant happiness. The reason for this is that the Chinese word for tangerine sounds like the word for 'luck' and the Chinese word for orange sounds like the Chinese word for 'wealth'. Therefore, these fruits are placed in the home to bring good luck and good fortune in the coming year. It is also a custom to bring oranges when visiting other houses.
Plum and Peach Blossom
People decorate their homes with fruit blossoms to symbolise the start of a cycle which will result in a plentiful crop of fruit later in the year. Peach blossoms symbolise long life, romance and prosperity.
Chinese Red Lanterns
Many Chinese believe that red represents wealth, fame, and prosperity. This is also why festivals, weddings, and other celebrations often have a lot of red decorations and outfits. Most Chinese lanterns are red, and lanterns of this color symbolize a prosperous business and a thriving life.