Peering through the celestial wonders of China is a new year – a year of billowing celebrations and a year dedicated to the rat, one of the animals in the Chinese zodiac. Growing from the roots of long-held traditions and branches of culture, the Chinese New Year represents gratitude and devotion to the deities and ancestors above.
Wreathed in shades of red, China reaches the peak of its splendour during the New Year. Sparks of fireworks make the sky it’s very own canvas while lanterns paint the local streets with an unforgivingly fervid glow, turning the festival into a portrait you’ll never quite forget.
The Chinese New Year of 2020 falls on January 25th (Saturday), and the festival will last to February 8th, about 15 days in total. As an official public holiday, Chinese people can get seven days’ absence from work, from January 24th to 30th.
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It’s also quite notable to mention that the lantern festival also looms closer with the succession of its predecessor. Equally engulfed in history, the lantern festival expresses freedom and a time of socialising. What’s more? The lantern festival is officially conjoined with the New Year, which lets the holiday stretch even more! Also, if you’re devastatingly single, you should know that the lantern festival also birthed some of the wildest and most romantic stories for visitors (not exaggerating, it’s an actual thing, there are even stories about it on Wattpad) So, get packing.
What’s the great race?
According to ancient folk stories, the Jade Emperor declared that the years on the calendar would be represented by 12 animals that reached his palace, in what is called The Great Race. In which the animals arrived in the order below.
Now, let’s take more than a few steps back; you might have noticed a connotation citing that the year is “dedicated to the rat”, and no, I’m afraid it isn’t referring to my middle school bully. While most of the world has never been too quiet to display their distaste for the animal, the Rat is the first proud animal to be represented in the Chinese Zodiac.
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Fact: There are quite a few titbits on how it shaped out to be this way. It wasn’t all fair competition. This might be sad for some of you kitty maniacs, such as myself, but a Cat was also involved in the race, that is until the art of deception took the reins of the race. The story starts out with both the cat and the Rat hatching a plan to go through the river on the Ox. Halfway through, however, the Rat pushed the Cat off (plot hole?). The Cat eventually drowned ☹ and the Rat proceeded to run ahead of the Ox and become the first. Following this, the Chinese believe this is why Cats have an unmeasurable amount of hate for both Rats and water.