The Year Of The Tiger: Chinese New Year Rituals and Traditions

 

Unlike in Western culture where we ring in the New Year on 1st January, the traditional Chinese calendar follows a lunisolar calendar meaning that the New Year begins on February 1st.

However, it is 4th February that is the most significant in the Chinese zodiac, where the first day of the new animal year begins. 2022 is the year of the tiger, the yang water tiger to be specific. This only comes around every 60 years, as the Chinese zodiac works in a certain sequence, following the twelve zodiac animals and the five elements.

Each element brings in a slight nuance to the Chinese New Year, so it’s important to take every year on an individual basis. The Yang Water Tiger will have a vast impact on the world around us, from how we feel to what happens in the year ahead.

 

The Traditions and Rituals of Chinese New Year

In China, the New Year is a massive two-week celebration of fireworks, processions, red lanterns for luck and red money in envelopes.

This is known as the spring festival because it celebrates the rising of yang qi — of vitality and life force. Traditionally preparations start two weeks before Chinese New Year itself, taking place from Chinese New Year’s Eve – 31st January to the Lantern Festival – 15th February. Regional customs and traditions may vary, but all of them share the same theme — ushering out the old year and bringing forth the luck and prosperity of the new one.

 

What Does The Year Of The Tiger Mean?

I really love the Chinese zodiac and I find it’s invaluable given my job reading Bazi charts. This is a very exciting New Year as the yang water tiger is such a powerful animal within the chart. The tiger is an animal of courage and valour, so this year will be a time of giving, kindness, prosperity and growth. 2022 is set to be a year of regrowth and renewal, and if you want to know what the Year of The Tiger will bring, do take a look at my YouTube here.

Which Traditions Can I Follow?

As a Chinese Medicine Practioner, I have always appreciated the traditions of Chinese wisdom and particularly love those in relation to the beginning of spring.

 

The Home

Before the New Year officially begins, a number of families celebrate Little New Year on the 23rd day of the Lunar Month where they worship the Stove God, the most important Chinese domestic god who protects the hearth and family. This is a day to offer sesame sweet treats and tea sacrifices and light candles, before worshipping the God.

It is a traditional belief in Chinese culture that the Stove God returns too heaven to present his yearly report about each family member’s behaviour to the Jade Emperor on that day, so everyone is on their best behaviour.

This is then followed by days of preparing the home, in preparation for the coming year. In Chinese wisdom ‘dust’ is a homophone for ‘old’ so cleaning the house is required to drive away the previous year and prepare for a new start.

 

Family

It is a tradition that on the first day of Chinese New Year, that everyone greets relatives and wishes each other good luck. They prepare sweet treats, pastries and nuts at home to serve guests. Though interestingly it is dinner on Chinese New Year’s Eve that is seen as the most important meal of the year. Big families of several generations sit around tables, making Chinese dumplings and enjoying time together. Dinner is followed be Shou Sui, which sees family members stay awake together during the night, launching fireworks at midnight.

It’s customary for the younger generation to visit their elders, to wish them health and longevity. One of my favourite traditions takes place here, where red envelopes are given from the older generation to the younger generation as New Year’s gifts to keep the children safe and bring them good luck.

 

The Lantern Festival

There is nothing like the beauty of the Yuan Xiao Festival, also known as the Lantern Festival, which takes place on the 15th day, and sees people release paper lanterns into the skies. The day before families get together to buy or make lanterns before reuniting the next day to watch the moon, the lantern fair and guess the riddles written on the lanterns.

Marking the first full moon of the New Year, families traditionally get together for a final reunion dinner. Here they enjoy glutinous rice balls with sweet fillings in a clear dessert soup, which symbolises reunion.

I really love the start of a New Year, and I always feel that life is again filled with possibility, optimism, anticipation and excitement for the year ahead. A fresh start. As we move away from the reflective Kidney energy of winter, we focus on the mighty Liver, and new beginnings. As a Chinese Medicine Practitioner, I want to wish you a Happy New Year and may 10,000 things go in accordance with your wishes!

To find out more about your own Chinese zodiac sign and what lies ahead in the Year of the Tiger, discover more about my Bazi reading here. Join my Hayo’uFit classes and follow me on Instagram to discover more about spring in Chinese wisdom.