Week 6 - Chinese New Year

Remember the new year celebrations we had in January?  For many Chinese people, Tuesday 5th February is the first day of their new year. They've been looking forward to it over the last few weeks and getting their houses ready for the celebrations. These preparations include putting up big red decorations (red is thought to be a lucky colour), hanging two-line messages with new year good wishes around the doors, cleaning the house and buying new clothes. It's also a time when Chinese people visit their temples and they especially remember their ancestors, people who were part of the family but who have now died. For many Chinese people, respect for parents and for elderly people is very important.

On the first day of the new year, everyone wishes everyone else 'Happy New Year' - much as we do on 1 January. It's a time to be thankful for the last year, to look forward to what may happen this year and to hope that it will be a good one. Children are given special little red envelopes (remember that red is a lucky colour) with 'lucky money' inside. Families will meet together to eat special food and wear new clothes. In some places, dumplings are a favourite new year food and they have different fillings, each of which have a different meaning: for example, dumplings filled with sugar will bring a sweet life. Sometimes there's money inside the dumplings.

There are also things that you can't do on Chinese New Year's Day. Knives and scissors are not used because they are thought to be unlucky. So if you need a hair-cut, you must have it done before the New Year festival! During this time everyone tries to be kind and friendly to everyone else.

Animals are very important too. In China, every year has the name of an animal. There are 12 important animals, so each animal has its turn once every 12 years. This year (2019) it's the year of the pig. 

Chinese New Year can be a noisy time too because people light firecrackers. A long time ago, this was thought to chase away ghosts and monsters.

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