Chinese New Year, 2022 is the year of the Tiger: it happens once every 60 years.

The Spring Festival commonly known as Chinese New Year. In the Eastern tradition, the calendar is lunisolar, that is linked to the phases of the moon (not the sun) and the months begin with each new moon. This is why we also speak of the Lunar New Year. The beginning of the new year always coincides with the second new moon after the winter solstice, therefore on a date between January 21 and February 20. A day that – this year on 1 February precisely – kicks off two weeks of celebrations for a large part of the Far East. Not only China, in fact, the Lunar New Year is also celebrated in Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal, Bhutan and Vietnam. Each year, according to Chinese astrology, is marked by an animal sign (12 in total) and one of the five fundamental elements: metal, wood, water, fire and earth. 2022 is the year of the Water Tiger. The 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010 and so on were also of the Tiger, but the combination with water recurs every 60 years. In the Chinese horoscope this sign embodies strength, courage and impulsiveness (characteristics similar to those of Leo in our local horoscope). The meaning attributed to it, therefore, is that of an unpredictable year. It mitigates the water element, but months of ups and downs are expected. Surely a better prospect than 2020, which was the year of the Rat: a year of great upheavals. The actual party, a bit like Christmas, begins on the evening of New Year’s Eve, with a family banquet. Then the first day opens with the lion dance, a traditional ritual. The party alternates between myths and superstitions. We visit parents and grandparents, not on the fourth day of celebration, however, because it brings bad luck and we fight. Among the traditional foods there are the Jiaozi, the famous steamed meat ravioli, which are eaten especially on the fifth day of the festival. To close the Chinese New Year cycle there is the Lantern Festival, the main recurrence of these holidays, in which you walk at night with the iconic rice paper lanterns. In modern times, plastic has replaced paper, and the decorations are written and drawings of anime, traditional Japanese cartoons. In the streets there are dances and other artistic performances, then the inevitable fireworks. But where do these customs come from?

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