Celebrating Chinese New Year of the Gold Ox in Liverpool

Posted on: 10 February 2021 by Dr Penny Ding in 2021 posts

Chinese New Year of Golden Ox

Deputy Director of the Confucius Institute Dr Penny Ding explains why this year's Spring Festival is so special.

Chinese New Year (中国年), also called the Spring Festival (春节), is the grandest and most important festival for Chinese people.  While Chinese people around the world celebrate this occasion, leading to it often being referred to as Chinese New Year, the Spring Festival is also celebrated by people across many Eastern Asian countries and Chinese communities in towns and cities around the world.

This year, Spring Festival falls on Friday 12th February, and it is the Year of the Golden Ox.  The Chinese zodiac sign contain twelve animals. These animals are ordered according to an ancient, mythical race: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.  

The Ox ranks the 2nd in the Chinese zodiac and many Chinese consider the year of Ox to be very lucky. The Ox signifies honesty, diligence, dependability and determination. Every animal year also comes with one of the five elements including Gold 金, Water 水, Wood 木, Fire 火and Earth 地.  While all animals represent a year in every twelve-year cycle, there are five twelve-year cycles taking 60 years to complete. As the Year of the Golden Ox only comes once every 60 years, 2021 is deemed a particularly special year.  The next time we see the Year of the Ox in 2033, it will be the Water Ox. 

Year of the Ox

Year of the Ox. Image from Wikimedia Commons. 

For many Chinese, Spring Festival is the only time of year they have time to return home to visit family. The holiday celebrations typically last for three to four weeks, from the 23rd day of the 12th Lunar Month, to the 15th day of the new lunar year.  During the holiday, the streets are decorated with red lanterns, lion and dragon dance teams, waist drummers, performers on the stilts parade on the street throughout the holiday period.

Chinese new year Dragon dancers

Chinese New Year Dragon Dancers. Image by Quang Nguyen Vinh / Pexels.

Spring Festival is, however, a very family-focused celebration.  Important events on New Year’s Eve include eating together with several generations of the family; staying up late on New Year’s Eve to see in the New Year, and large fireworks displays to ward off evil spirits. 

On New Year’s Day, it is tradition to visit older generations of the family, relatives and friends in the early morning – where the older generation give red envelopes usually containing money to the youngest generation.  Traditionally, Chinese New Year celebrations draw to an end on the 15th Day of the New Year called the Red Lantern Festival.

In these times, when many families are enduring hardship, and we may not be able to travel home or visit our loved ones – Spring Festival becomes an important time to reflect on the truly important aspects of our lives: our family, our health and our happiness.

The Confucius Institute of the University of Liverpool wish all our colleagues, friends,  students, and those in our wider communities of Liverpool and a very happy, healthy and safe Chinese New Year of the Golden Ox. May the New Year of the Ox bring you the best of luck, good health, good fortune and prosperity. 牛年快乐,万事如意!

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Discover Chinese history and culture The Liverpool Confucius Institute.

Study in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Liverpool.