Chinese New Year: All you need to know about 'Year of the Metal Ox'
The Ox represents the first year of the 12-year zodiacal cycle, with 2020 being the 'Year of the Metal Rat'
Chinese New Year will be celebrated around the world on 12 February. The festival marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year and follows the lunar calendar, thus falling on a different date each year. The Chinese New Year is also called the Spring Festival.
Each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac - Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig - which is based on the Moon and has a 12 year cycle.
According to a report in BBC, millions of people in China normally travel across the country in the lead up to the new year as a time to spend with their families. People clean their homes to make them ready for the celebrations before the festivities.
On the eve of New Year, there is a tradition not to pick up a broom in case one mistakenly sweeps the good luck out of the door.
Parades and performances are also organised with people dressing up in traditional clothes. Fireworks also play an important role and it is thought that the noise and light will scare away any evil spirits for the coming months. Adults might give red envelopes to children with money inside.
While the exact beginning of the Chinese New Year is not known, some people believe that it originated in the Shang Dynasty when people organised sacrificial ceremonies in honour of gods and ancestors.
However, the date of the festival, the first day of the first lunar month in the Chinese lunar calendar, was fixed in the Han Dynasty (202 BC to 220 AD).
The Chinese New Year 2021 animal is the Ox. Each year has a different animal sign in Chinese Zodiac and has a 12 year cycle.
According to a report in Forbes, there is also a cycle of five elements - wood, fire, earth, metal and water, which together creates a 60 year cycle. The year 2021 will be the 'Year of the Metal Ox.' The Ox also represents the first year of the 12-year zodiac cycle.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many to change the way they celebrate Lunar New Year. In China, many preparations and celebrations are expected to go virtual with the government asking citizens to not travel home to prevent the spread of COVID-19 .
Furthermore, Beijing has issued a yellow alert for heavy air pollution on Chinese New Year's Eve. The city has also strictly implemented a ban on fireworks and firecrackers, suspended outdoor construction work and increased cleaning operations for key roads.
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