In Chinese mythology, it is believed that Nian, a terrifying beast that feeds on humans, comes out of hiding as the New Year starts. It is said to have the face of a lion with sharp teeth, terrorizing people as it comes out to hunt them. According to the legend, the beast is afraid of the color red, fire, and loud, cracking noises.
Commemorating this legend, as people celebrate the New Year starting, they have adopted red as a typical color for this time, for decorations, gifts, and clothes. Also, they light fires and set off fireworks, as a tradition known to scare off the monsters and evil spirits.
The Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is celebrated among Asian communities around the world. Unlike in Western societies, the Lunar Year is based on the moon’s orbit around the earth, instead of the earth’s orbit around the sun. It takes place during the new moon, occurring sometime between the 21st of January and the 20th of February, and celebrations can go on for days.
Since it marks the beginning of the harvest season, people traditionally pray to the Gods and their ancestors for abundance in the crops. Some traditions involve burning paper money and printed gold bars, as an offering to their ancestors, in hope that they will be brought good fortune in the coming year.
It is a time to gather with family and celebrate the new beginning, marking a holiday that involves huge migrations of people all over the globe, all hoping to get home to celebrate the occasion with their loved ones.
There are many traditions that come with this holiday. First, before the Spring Festival begins, people clean their homes, hoping to get rid of old clutter that may bring them bad luck in the year to come. After cleaning out the mess, many people go out shopping for new things, starting the new year fresh.
They decorate houses with red paper and couplets, give money to children in red envelopes, and wish each other good luck and fortune for the future. It is also common to eat dumplings during this time, as they are believed to symbolize prosperity and fortune.
According to the tradition, each year is represented by one of 12 animals, each carrying a specific meaning in the life of people born the year they are. January 25th will be the beginning of the year of the rat. The rat represents wealth and surplus, and people born during these years are believed to be creative, quick thinkers, clever, optimistic, and successful.
The Lunar New Year is filled with beautiful traditions, beliefs, and legends, all making it a huge festival celebrated by around a quarter of the earth’s population. From dinner parties to firecracker shows, the events are full of meaning originating from legends and myths, symbolizing the welcoming of a new beginning, hoping it be filled with good fortune for all.
In Madrid, the celebration will occur in the neighborhood of Usera this Friday night but the celebrations will spread throughout the city with famous landmarks, such as la Puerta de Alcala being lit up.