On February 12, the Chinese community in Scotland celebrates the Spring Festival, better known as Chinese New Year.
It is the most important holiday of the calendar in China: no wonder it marks the world’s largest annual human migration, as workers across the country return home to welcome the Lunar New Year with their families.
This year, celebrations might look a little different due to the pandemic, but this is not stopping some staple traditions.
Here is everything you need to know about the Chinese New Year.
Why is Chinese New Year different from the UK’s?
Although China, like much of the world, now uses the Gregorian calendar, holidays are still calculated according to the lunisolar Chinese calendar.
The national holiday begins on the first of the Lunar Calendar and lasts until the 15th of the first month.
In 2021, Chinese New Year begins on February 12th and ends February 26th with the Lantern Festival.
How is Chinese New Year celebrated?
The Spring Festival is long and has specific activities and traditions for each day, which might vary between regions.
Celebrations have close ties with superstitions and rituals to bring a prosperous New Year.
Before the official start of the year, activities include house cleaning to sweep away bad luck.
Firecrackers and fireworks kick off the Spring Festival, followed by eating and drinking, exchanging red envelopes and hanging red paper lanterns.
But cleaning is forbidden, or else good luck will be swept away.
From the Confucius Institute for Scotland in the University of Edinburgh we send you best wishes for a healthy, peaceful and fulfilling new year 2021! #YearOfTheOx
— Confucius Institute (@CI4Scotland) February 11, 2021
What is the significance of the Ox?
An animal from the Chinese zodiac is assigned to each lunar year. 2021 marks the Year of the Ox.
The Ox comes second in the twelve-year lunar cycles, or as legend goes, in the race organised by the Jade Emperor’s. The animals’ order of arrival at his party would decide the order in the zodiac.
In Chinese culture, the Ox is a valued animal. Because of its role in agriculture, it is associated with characteristics like industriousness, honesty and strength.
Chinese New Year celebrations in Scotland
This year’s festivities will take place mainly online in Scotland, due to the strict measures to contain coronavirus infections.
Edinburgh Castle will be illuminated in red to mark the occasion, while Usher Hall’s annual Chinese New Year Gala Concert moves online and will be broadcast in China and Scotland on February 13.
Still in Edinburgh, Canadian contemporary artist Ian Kirkpatrick brought his playful, life-size fusion of Highland Coo and Chinese Ox sculpture to Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, as part of a special commission for Edinburgh’s Chinese New Year celebrations.
In Glasgow, West End residents were surprised with a display of fireworks as the clock struck midnight.