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Chinese New Year – What is it and how does it affect you?
Chinese New Year is the most important holiday on the Chinese calendar and can have a major affect on your importing during its celebration. During this period of great celebration, also known as Lunar New Year, 1.4 billion Chinese make the most of their hard earned rest. But this great tradition did not start as a celebration but rather out of fear…..
The traditions of the Chinese New Year began many centuries ago and the story of how it began depends on who tells the story. Each story includes a tale about a ferocious mythical monster known as ‘nian’ (年 – also the word for ‘year’ in Chinese), that came up to the villages and attacked their citizens, their crops and homes. According to legend the monster would repeat this cycle every 12 months, at the same point in time. One of the village wise men explained to the villagers that in order to ward of this fierce creature when it came for them, they would need to illuminate their houses, hang painted red scrolls and cut-outs from their doors, make loud noises with their drums and gongs and perform Lion dances, as these represented the three things that the monster was scared of – light, noise and the colour red. The villagers took the wise man’s advice and the terrible monster was conquered. They then continued to do this on a yearly basis when the ‘nian’ was due to return, hence creating the Chinese New Year.
The Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar and usually begins on a different date each year. It is based on the moons orbit around the earth and started on February 14th in 2010. While the holiday is only officially recognised by the government as 3 days holiday, typically the Chinese New Year celebrations last for around 15 days.
Each Chinese New Year is symbolised and named after one of 12 particular animals and consists of a 12 year cycle. 2010 is the year of the Tiger as will be 2022 and as was 1998. As with our Zodiac signs, the use of animals to describe each new Chinese year is also a way of characterising those individuals that will be born during that year. It is said that the characteristics of people born during the year of the Tiger are courage, fervour, independence, friendliness, hopefulness, resilience and pride. If you were born in any of these years 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998 or 2010 you were born in the year of the Tiger!
During this century old two-week celebration China goes on holiday. They have worked hard all year and deserve a well earned break. Don’t expect to achieve much in China during this time. Don’t expect any communication from any contacts you have in China or don’t expect your professional sourcing company to achieve much on your behalf. Plan for this period of inaction and make sure you forecast your product needs during this time and order appropriately and in advance.
written by Matt Edwards
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