Every year people around the world celebrate Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival (Chun Jie) as it brings about new beginnings, but a lot of people don’t understand the history behind it.

The date of Chinese New Year changes every year in accordance with the lunar calendar (occurring this year on Friday 16th February). 

There is a Chinese zodiac consisting of 12 different animals used in a cycle to represent the different years (this year is the year of the dog, the 11th animal in the zodiac). One belief about the origin of the zodiac is that the Jade Emperor needed 12 palace guards and established the zodiac by the order in which the animals arrived to sign up. The dog is said to be loyal, cautious and amiable, some famous people born in the year of the dog are Winston Churchill and Mother Teresa.

One little-known fact about the spring festival is the origin of the firecrackers that can be heard each year. It is said that a monster called ‘Nian’ came about on new year’s eve, everyone hid in their houses but one brave boy fought the monster off with firecrackers. To celebrate their victory more firecrackers were set off the next day (Chinese new year).

It causes the largest human migration in the world as people all around the world come together to celebrate this festival with their families. It is a time for community and joy. Happy New Year!

By Mathilda Bower, Gumley House Convent School