As home to 35 million people from so many different backgrounds, Canada is an amazing place to celebrate your culture’s holidays and learn about others’ traditions.
This year, Chinese New Year falls on February 5. It’s the year of the pig, one of the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac. They say that people born in the year of the pig (1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019) are kind, logical thinkers.
Traditionally, Chinese New Year is observed for two weeks. It’s the time to welcome spring (here’s hoping!), set off firecrackers (to ward off bad luck and welcome the new year), and practice other traditions such as:
Most people raised in Western culture are familiar with the idea of spring cleaning; in the Chinese tradition, there’s a special day set for just that!
Three days before the Spring Festival or “the 28th day of the end of the year” is dedicated to cleaning. People use this time to sweep away bad luck and prepare for a fresh start. A new year is the best time to turn over a new leaf.
For two days before Chinese New Year, you aren’t supposed to do any cleaning. No sweeping, no tidying up, and no throwing out the garbage. While those unfamiliar with this custom may wonder how this tradition started, the reasoning behind its symbolism makes perfect sense.
The idea is to leave any remnants of last year in the past, lest they bring bad luck to the new year. So in order to start off on a fresh foot, wait until just before the year changes to break out the brooms and trash bags.
It’s also customary to not do any cleaning during the Chinese New Year period as well. You don’t want to sweep away the good luck of the new year, after all.
Covering everything in red
The colour red is important in Chinese culture because it symbolizes good fortune and wards off bad luck. For that reason, people often decorate their homes in red for Chinese New Year. From lanterns and chili peppers to paper signs expressing positive blessings that welcome good fortune, the home becomes a crimson sanctuary. Some people buy new red clothing to symbolize a fresh start. Red packets containing money are given to children, symbolizing the transfer of good fortune from the older generation to the younger.