Chinese New Year 2021: when is the lunar New Year, what does the year of the Ox mean - and Chinese traditions

Decorating your home with red lanterns and decorations could bring good luck and prosperity in the year ahead

The new Lunar calendar has begun, celebrated in Asia as the beginning of a New Year.

The biggest event on the calendar in China, it is celebrated by families and communities decorating their homes and cooking traditional Chinese cuisine.

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But why does China follow the lunar calendar and how will it be celebrated this year? This is what you need to know.

2021 is the year of the Ox (Picture: Shutterstock)

When in Chinese New Year 2021?

In 2021, Chinese New Year falls on 12 February.

Why does China celebrate the Lunar New Year?

The new moon calendar dates do not correlate with a traditional Gregorian calendar - instead it changes dates but always falls some time between 21 January and 20 February.

The Lunar calendar celebrates its first new day when a new moon appears, a theory which is more than 5,000 years old.

This calendar has 12 Chinese zodiac animal signs, known as Ben Ming Nian, and these rotate every year, as opposed to every month like in the Gregorian calendar.

The zodiac signs include the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

Each year has a different sign, meaning each person is represented by one of the 12 animals.

However, the years run from the end of January one year to the beginning of February in the next.

The worshiping of animals is called zoolatry, and dates back to the Qin dynasty more than 2,000 years ago.

February 2021 will start the year of the Ox, the year of the Rat (2020) will come to an end.

The year you are born is supposed to be the unluckiest for you, so people born in previous Ox years may face bad luck this year - according to Chinese astrology.

What does the year of the Ox represent?

The Ox has traits of strength, reliability, fairness and conscientiousness, as well as inspiring confidence in others.

This means those born in the year of the Ox - 2021 as well as 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009 also share these traits - according to the Qin legend.

They are also thought to be calm, patient, methodical and trustworthy - although also very opinionated, strong-willed and potentially stubborn.

Lucky numbers for people born in the year of the Ox include one, four and lucky colours include white, green and yellow.

How do people celebrate Chinese New Year?

Millions of people all over the world celebrate Chinese New Year in their communities and families.

Before the celebrations begin, people deep clean their homes as on the day itself it is back luck to sweep or clean in case you sweep the good luck for the year ahead out of your home.

The celebrations are also called the spring festival in Chinese culture, and businesses and schools close much like they do in the UK at Christmas.

People come together to celebrate with food and parties - noodle soup is a tradition as the noodles are thought to bring luck.

Parades and performances are usually held too, including beautifully decorated dragons, people in traditional costumes and fireworks.

The colourful lights and bang of fireworks are supposed to ward off evil spirits.

How will it be celebrated in 2021?

In 2021, Chinese public holidays will fall on 11-17 February, celebrations will begin on 12 February and end on 22 February.

In previous years, celebrations would have taken place in the streets but this may not be the case due to coronavirus restrictions

London’s annual Chinese celebration - the biggest in the world outside of Asia - will also be halted this year, due to current UK government guidelines.

Despite the lack of celebrations, families will probably still have traditional dinner in their homes, including fish and dumplings on New Year’s Eve to encourage prosperity and noodle soup on New Year’s day.

People will dress in bright colours as black and white are thought to be bad omens, and women will stay at home throughout New Year’s Day as going out is also thought to bring misfortune to ladies.

It’s a tradition on Chinese New Year for people not to wash their hair or clothes on 12 February either. The date also celebrates the God of Water, and so water is spared

In addition, hair has the same pronunciation as ‘fa’ in ‘facai’ which means ‘to become wealthy’, and no one wants to “wash one’s fortune away” for the year ahead.