Vilden Associates would like to wish the overseas trade community a very Happy Chinese New Year 2019! Most of you know that this time of year impacts cargo transportation worldwide, particularly in the United States. For those that are curious, below you will find some interesting facts about the holiday.
Chinese New Year, or Lunar New Year and Spring Festival, is a Chinese holiday that celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar. The first day of Chinese New Year begins on the new moon that appears between 21 January and 20 February.
This year's Spring Festival will begin on Tuesday, 5 February, initiating the year of the pig. The Chinese New Year is the most important and longest celebration in the Chinese calendar, with most observers taking a week to two weeks off of work to be with family.
The Chinese festival is just one of several Lunar New Years in Asia. Other Lunar New Year festivals include the Korean New Year, the Tết of Vietnam, and the Losar of Tibet. The Spring Festival is also celebrated worldwide in regions and countries with significant overseas Chinese populations, including Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, Mauritius, as well as many countries in North America and Europe.
The celebration lasts for 16 days, which falls on February 20th this year. The peak time of the entire celebration is on Chinese New Year's Eve and the first day of the lunar new year. The 16th day is called Lantern Festival, marking the end of the celebration. In the evening of 15th day of the first lunar month (Lunar New Year's Eve is February 19th), on the night of the full moon, families gather for a reunion dinner and go out and see fireworks and light lanterns. These lanterns are put up for decoration, let loose to fly, and floated in rivers. The lanterns are believed to light the way for the new year and to guide lost spirits home, while the fireworks are used to scare off demons and evil ghosts.
Every Chinese New Year starts a new animal's zodiac year. There are 12 Chinese zodiac animals. In order, the 12 animals are: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. This year's festival celebrates the year of the pig.
The Spring Festival has been celebrated for more than 4,000 years. Farmers started the holiday in China to mark the end of winter and the beginning of spring. It was also a festival to honor ancestors as well as other holy or sacred beings.
The festival causes the world's largest annual migration. For participants, the most important part of the Spring Festival is to enjoy a reunion dinner with their families on New Year's Eve, even if they must travel long distances. 200 million Mainland Chinese travel long distances for these holidays, and it is estimated that there are 3.5 billion journeys in China. Tens of millions of people travel in other countries too. It makes the largest annual human migration in the world, known as the Spring Festival Travel Rush.
Red is a very important color and can be seen in abundance during the festival. Houses are decorated with red Spring Festival couplets, red lanterns, and red paper cuttings; city streets are lit up by red lanterns; and numerous people are dressed in red and exchanging red envelopes. This is because red in Chinese culture is the symbol of happiness, wealth and prosperity, and can ward off evil spirits and bring good luck. The two flowers most commonly associated with the Chinese New Year are the plum blossom, which is a symbol of courage and hope, and the water narcissus, which symbolizes good luck and prosperity.
We hope these facts have brought you some insight into this celebration. We want to wish all observers a very Happy Lunar New Year ("Guo Nian Hao")! May the coming year bring you and your families health and success!