Today is 2012’s Chinese New Year, and the nation is celebrating the introduction of the Year of the Dragon. But here in Canada, what do we know about the famous celebration? Here are some fun facts about the tradition that you may or may not have known:
- The date for Chinese New Year changes every year because it happens when the first new moon appears between January 21st and February 21st.
- The Chinese calendar is made up of a cycle of 12 years, each named after one of these animals: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.
- The celebration of Chinese New Year lasts 15 days.
- The Chinese New Year is also commonly known as the Spring Festival, since it’s the main festival that happens over the course of the celebration.
- For Christmas, you decorate a tree, for Easter, you decorate an egg, for Chinese New Year, you decorate a hanging lantern.
- Red is the most commonly used colour during Chinese New Year because it’s considered to be one of the luckiest colours of all.
- Unlike most of our holidays here in North America, the Chinese New Year is not a religious event.
- A common phrase spoken during Chinese New Year is “gōng xǐ fā cái” (or Kung Hei Fat Choi), which means “Congratulations and be prosperous.”
What does the Year of the Dragon mean?
As you can see on the list above, the dragon is the only creature on the list that isn’t actually real (the Komodo dragon doesn’t count!). Because it’s a mythological creature, it tends to have a whimsical and fantastical spirit around it. Overall, most fortunes according to Chinese philosophy say that the Year of the Dragon will be a good and prosperous one!
Notable moments that happened in 1988, the last Year of the Dragon:
- Adele, Nikki Reed, Emma Stone, Vanessa Hudgens and Rupert Grint were all born during this year
- "Fat" by Weird Al Yankovic hits #99 on the charts
- Edmonton Oilers take the Stanley Cup from the Boston Bruins
- WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT, BIG, and BEETLEJUICE are among the top 10 highest grossing films of the year
- NASA launches space vehicle S-214
- Canada’s Olympic runner Ben Johnson ran 100 m in 9.79 sec, but he is later stripped of his gold metal when a test shows he tests positive for steroid use. Silly Johnson!