Chinese New Year in London: What does the Year of the Rabbit mean?
This month will see the start of the Chinese New Year, with the Year of the Tiger ticking over to the Year of the Rabbit.
The main celebrations will take place on 22 January, although the build-up officially began on 30 December, day eight of the last month of the lunar calendar, with the Laba festival.
Those born in 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963 or 1951 will see their zodiac animal come to the fore for 12 lunar cycles. Unlike “tigers”, who are said to symbolise strength and bravery, “rabbits” are believed to be more skittish, with quick minds suited to problem solving and possessing a more wary nature.
In Chinese culture the sign of the rabbit is a symbol of peace, prosperity and longevity. Rabbits are believed to get on best with goats, dogs, and pigs.
It’s not necessarily good news for all the rabbits out there – astrologers believe this is a year that will see big swings in luck for carrot-munchers, with some hitting the jackpot and others striking out; cynics may suggest is simply covering all the bases. Those born in the Year of the Monkey are said to be in with the best year, with rats facing the bleakest 12 months of all the Zodiac animals.
Traditionally houses will be decorated with red lanterns and strings of paper cuttings (thought to ward off evil spirits) for Chinese New Year, with offerings to ancestors left on New Year’s Eve, including food and incense. New Year’s Eve is also a time for families to get together for food.
Chinese New Year is celebrated with fireworks and firecrackers, which are believed to bring good luck – the louder the luckier.
With one of the largest Chinatowns in the world, London will see a host of celebrations, with hundreds of thousands gathering in the West End to watch the floats, firecrackers and traditional dragon dances.
The main hubs will focus around in Chinatown; Leicester Square, and Trafalgar Square, with the entertainments covering everything from traditional music to martial arts displays.