Chinese New Year 2020: the year of the rat

- through Fabrice Groult

Published on

According to the lunisolar calendar, which is said to have been invented in 2637 BCE by the mythical Yellow Emperor, the Chinese New Year falls this year on January 25, 2020 and will celebrate the sign of the rat.

Attention Chinese abacus: in the former Middle Kingdom, the year had twelve moons of 29 or 30 days each, or 354 days in all. To correct the discrepancy of approximately 10 days which existed with the solar year of 365 days, a month was mechanically added. The 1st of the year always corresponds to the second new moon after the winter solstice, so it falls between the end of January and the first fortnight of February.

Zodiac animals

Each year is symbolized by an animal that returns every twelve years and one of the five elements: water, earth, metal, fire and wood. Legend has it that it was the Buddha who organized this cycle. Having asked all the species of the animal kingdom to come and see him so that he would bless them, only twelve animals having presented themselves, he would have assigned them an astrological sign and a constellation in the order of their arrival which was, from the first at the last, the rat, the buffalo, the tiger, the hare, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the goat, the monkey, the rooster, the dog and the pig. January 25, 2020 marks the beginning of the Year of the Rat. As a rule, it symbolizes charm and aggressiveness. But, Chinese astrology is actually very complex. A year is studied taking into account, in particular, the animal, the element associated with it, and many other terrestrial and celestial factors. This year is that of the metal rat who tends to wallow in a certain pessimism.

Celebrate the energies of the new year with the family

The New Year, or spring festival, is above all a family celebration. In China, great festivities take place for fifteen days throughout the country. The lion dance is performed in front of shops to bring good luck to traders and dozens of firecrackers are lit on this occasion to chase away evil spirits. On the last day, the traditional lantern festival, or Yuanxio from the name of the cakes that are eaten on this occasion, closes the festivities.

The lion dance is performed in front of shops to bring good luck to traders and dozens of firecrackers are lit to drive away evil spirits.

Abroad, imposing and magnificent parades are also organized, wherever there are Chinese communities. They are the work of associations representing different provinces or ethnic and linguistic communities in China. In Paris, three parades take place: in the 206th arrondissement, where we find the largest Chinese diaspora in Europe, in Belleville and in the 220rd arrondissement, the oldest Chinatown in Europe. Every year, in the XNUMXth century, onlookers are fascinated by the passage of mythical characters such as Shuiwei Niangniang, the goddess of seafarers venerated by sailors, fishermen, long-distance merchants, emigrants and all those who face the perils of the sea ​​voyages. Leizu, the first wife of the Yellow Emperor, who discovered the complete cycle of the mulberry moth, invented greenhouse cultivation and silk weaving. The eight immortals (ba xian) dear to the Taoists. And the dragon, mythical animal par excellence, which once defended the Middle Empire and symbolized since the Han dynasty (XNUMX BC – XNUMX), the Emperor of China. According to legend, the animal remains underground and in the waters during the winter period and emerges at the time of spring, a season that characterizes the awakening of the forces of nature, fertility and the resurgence of life in all its forms, also both animal and vegetable.

This time of year is also an opportunity to pray according to Buddhist, Confucianist and Taoist traditions so that everyone's wishes are granted and to celebrate the worship of ancestors, the deceased and to maintain the graves.

The New Year is an essential moment of sharing and conviviality in China. The tradition evolves, but remains despite everything a strong identity bond for the new generations. Abroad, more and more Westerners are joining the Chinese diasporas to celebrate the arrival of spring with them. Living together thus finds in these privileged moments, a way to build itself sustainably.

photo of author

Fabrice Groult

Fabrice Groult is an adventurer, photographer and Buddhist who has traveled the world since a young age. After studying Buddhism in India, he embarked on an eighteen-month journey through Asia that took him to the Himalayas, where he discovered his passion for photography. Since then, he has traveled the world capturing images of Buddhist beauty and wisdom. He was a guide for ten years, and is now a journalist with Buddhist News.

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