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1 of 24 | A man lights candles during the midnight celebrations of the Lunar New Year at the Dharma Ramsi Temple in Bandung, Indonesia, on Saturday, January 25. (Credit: Algi Febri Sugita / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images)
2 of 24 | People watch fireworks in front of the Imperial City of Hue to celebrate the Lunar New Year in Hue, Vietnam. (Credit: Linh Pham / Getty Images)
3 of 24 | Two men take photos at the Seng Guan Temple on the eve of Chinese New Year on Friday, January 24, in Manila, Philippines. (Credit: Ezra Acayan / Getty Images)
4 of 24 | A man burns incense sticks during Lunar New Year's Eve celebrations at Fuk Ling Miau in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. (Credit: Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images)
5 of 24 | Chinese passengers, most with facial masks, prepare to board trains in Beijing on Thursday, January 23, before the Lunar New Year Spring Festival. (Credit: Kevin Frayer / Getty Images)
6 of 24 | A woman takes a picture with her cell phone in front of a Lunar New Year decoration in a mall in Hong Kong. (Credit: Anthony Kwan / Getty Images)
7 of 24 | Barriers block access to Hankou railway station in Wuhan, Hubei Province, on Thursday, January 23. The station was closed in an unprecedented effort to try to contain the coronavirus in the midst of the Lunar New Year's trips. (Credit: Chinatopix / AP)
8 of 24 | A worker orders lanterns for the Lunar New Year at the Maitreya Temple in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Chinese communities in the world's most populous Muslim country are preparing for the beginning of the year of the rat. (Credit: Binsar Bakkara / AP)
9 of 24 | Crowds of travelers await transportation at the Hongqiao high-speed train station in Shanghai on Wednesday, January 22. (Credit: Qilai Shen / Bloomberg / Getty Images)
10 of 24 | Dumbo rats are displayed before the Lunar New Year celebrations at the Rainforest KidzWorld of the Singapore Zoo on Tuesday, January 21. 2020 is the year of the rat (Credit: Roslan Rahman / AFP / Getty Images)
11 of 24 | A man prepares tent in clay pots for cooking in the province of Ha Nam on Tuesday, January 21. Stewed fish is a popular delicacy during the Lunar New Year, or the Tet season, in northern Vietnam. (Credit: Nhac Nguyen / AFP / Getty Images)
12 of 24 | Passengers navigate at Beijing Daxing International Airport on Monday, January 20. (Credit: Wang Zhao / AFP / Getty Images)
13 of 24 | Rat-themed decoration items are on sale in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Monday, January 20. (Credit: Kham / Reuters)
14 of 24 | A colorful parade is held during the Grebeg Sudiro festival on Sunday, January 19 in Solo, Central Java, Indonesia. The event is celebrated as a prelude to the Chinese New Year. (Credit: Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images)
15 of 24 | Popular artists perform a dragon dance in Langzhong, in the Chinese province of Sichuan, on Saturday, January 18. (Credit: Jiang Hongjing / Xinhua / Zuma Wire)
16 of 24 | Children hold lanterns while participating in a parade that kicks off the Chinese New Year celebrations in Lisbon, Portugal, on Saturday, January 18. (Credit: Armando Franca / AP)
17 of 24 | An artist who wears a traditional Chinese costume attends the festivities in Belgrade, Serbia, on Saturday, January 18. (Credit: Andrej Cukic / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock)
18 of 24 | This is how the lights of a show on Qingxiu Mountain in Nanning, Zhuang Autonomous Region of Guangxi, southern China, look like on Friday, January 17. (Credit: Yu Xiangquan / Xinhua / Getty Images)
19 of 24 | Pandas puppies play alongside the Lunar New Year decorations at the Shenshuping reproduction base of the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Wenchuan, Sichuan Province, on Friday, January 17. (Credit: STR / AFP / Getty Images)
20 of 24 | A worker decorates giant incense sticks in a factory in Kubang Semang in western Malaysia on Friday, January 17. (Credit: Mohd Rasfan / AFP / Getty Images)
21 of 24 | Chinese artists rehearse before a presentation of folk art at the El Gomhoria Theater in Cairo, Egypt, on Thursday, January 16. (Credit: Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters)
22 of 24 | A boy jumps to touch the lanterns hanging from a tree in Beijing on Thursday, January 16. (Credit: Ng Han Guan / AP)
23 of 24 | Chinese passengers wait with their luggage before boarding trains for the Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, at the Beijing station on Friday, January 10. (Credit: Roman Pilipey / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock)
24 of 24 | Chinese passengers hold a banner next to their luggage in front of the Beijing train station on Friday, January 10. (Credit: Roman Pilipey / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock)
(CNN Spanish) - The Lunar New Year is here and the longest and most important celebration of the Chinese calendar officially begins. There are 15 days of festivities, family reunions, dragon dances, gift giving and packages known as “hong bao” and much, much red: the color of luck.
- LOOK: PHOTOS | This is how the Lunar New Year celebrates millions of people
So Happy Chinese New Year and welcome to the year of the rat! Here we explain everything you need to know about this celebration that extends to many countries in Asia.
What is the Chinese New Year?
Actually, this is not his official name: in China, the festivities are known as the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year. Precisely, they begin with the second moon after the winter solstice, a date that can go from the end of January to the middle of February in the Gregorian calendar. In this 2020 it is Saturday, January 25, when the year 4717 begins, the year of the rat.
- READ: What will the year of the rat be like? Hong Kong's most famous fortune teller makes his predictions
Nor is a single day celebrated. The Chinese New Year celebrations begin on the first day of the first lunar month in the Chinese calendar and extend for 15 days, when the full moon arrives. It is a time when families get together and go long distances to get home to see their loved ones. In the case of many, it is even the only opportunity of the year they have to return to their homes and carry bags of gifts.
As it is celebrated?
Each of the 15 days that make up the celebration has its own traditions. On New Year's Eve, for example, families gather for dinner together. There is also the custom of staying at home to receive good fortune or visit in-laws. In addition, money is given in a red envelope, called “hong bao” to children and adults without a partner. In recent years, the gift has migrated to the digital.
- LOOK: PHOTOS | Predictions for the Lunar New Year 2020
The tradition of throwing fireworks comes from the custom of lighting bamboo stalks to ward off evil spirits, such as the monster half dragon, half lion “Nian”, which according to legend comes out of hiding in the Lunar New Year to attack people . But his ears are his weakness, so in ancient times people set fire to bamboo stalks to scare him. Over time this resulted in fireworks.
And the Lunar New Year ends with the Lantern Festival, held at night with parades and decorated lantern displays. The main event of this day is the Dragon Dance: beautiful dragons made of paper, silk and bamboo are held on their heads and it seems that they will dance during the parade.
What superstitions characterize the Lunar New Year?
The first thing is not to take out the trash. The reason? It is said that thus you erase luck and prosperity. You also enjoy time with your family, especially your in-laws and family members, during the second day, which is considered the beginning of the year.
On the third day, on the contrary, it is better not to visit anyone. It is a day prone to discussions, according to tradition. For the seventh you can celebrate.
And red is the color that can never be missing: it is associated with luck and prosperity, but it is mainly used for protection purposes. (The monster "Nian" is also scared with the color red).
Does the world's largest migration occur in the Chinese New Year?
It is expected that this year that 3,000 million trips will be made during “chunyun”, the busy 40-day season in China - which runs from January 9 to February 18 - when people move to celebrate Lunar New Year. And yes, it is considered the largest human migration on the planet. Of that total trips, 440 million will be made by rail. Some 79 million will be by plane, but most will make their journey by car and motorcycle. The Chinese do whatever it takes to see their loved ones.
- READ: Under the shadow of the coronavirus comes the Lunar New Year: there are 30 million people with restrictions
Therefore, this year, in the midst of the outbreak of the coronavirus that affects the country, the celebration has raised so much concern among the authorities due to the high possibility of contagion. Wuhan, where the outbreak began, is under effective closure, with all public transport inside and outside the city suspended, and there are more than 30 million people affected by the restrictions in 11 cities in China. In addition, all celebrations were canceled in Beijing.
Why do Chinese years identify with animals?
Chinese legend tells that Buddha summoned all animals to meet him during New Year's Day and named the years with the 12 animals that came. So the animals in the Chinese calendar are the dog, the pig, the rat, the ox, the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the sheep, the monkey and the rooster. Tradition also says that people born in each animal year have some personality trait of that animal.
Lunar New Year Celebrations New Year Traditions