If your New Year's resolutions are lagging, Chinese New Year could be a chance to hit the refresh button. Here are eight things to know about Chinese New Year, including why eight is great as a benchmark.
1. When to celebrate: Chinese New Year 2020 begins Saturday, Jan. 25, and runs through Saturday, Feb. 8. At 15 days, it is the longest Chinese holiday — 16 days if you count celebrations starting New Year's Eve. The holiday has been observed for more than 4,000 years.
2. Why celebrate: In China, you'll hear it called chunjie, or the Spring Festival. It's still wintry, says ChineseNewYear.net, but the holiday marks the end of the coldest days. "People welcome spring and what it brings along: planting and harvests, new beginnings and fresh starts," says the website.
3. Lunar connection: You can also call it the lunar new year because other countries in Asia, including North Korea, South Korea and Vietnam, celebrate as well. Because it coincides with the lunar calendar, denoting phases of the moon, the date of Chinese New Year can vary from Jan. 21 to Feb. 20.
4. Zodiac sign: 2020 is the Year of the Rat. In Chinese culture, rats are seen as a sign of wealth and surplus. Because of their reproduction rate, married couples have prayed to them for children. Other Rat years include 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996 and 2008. People born in Rat years are thought to be optimistic, energetic and likable by all.
5. Myths: Several myths surround the holiday. According to one legend, there was a monster named Niam who came out on New Year's Eve. Most people would hide in their homes, but one boy was brave enough to fight him off using firecrackers. The next day people celebrated their survival by setting off even more firecrackers. The practice of scaring off monsters and bad luck with firecrackers became a crucial part of the Spring Festival.
6. Superstitions: Tradition is very important when honoring the lunar new year, according to a history at pfchangs.com. For example, households should refrain from sweeping, which may eliminate good luck. Crying, borrowing money and eating porridge are also considered taboo, as they are all believed to bring misfortune or poverty in the coming year. Luckier traditions include lighting fireworks to scare off evil spirits, hanging red lanterns to bring prosperity and preparing good-luck foods to share with loved ones.
7. How to celebrate: Area residents will want to enjoy a meal at their favorite Chinese restaurant during the Spring Festival. P.F. Chang's at Hamilton Place will feature a Lucky 8 Menu, which offers traditional dishes across regions of Asia, as well as a specialty cocktail, The Red Lantern. Creative Discovery Museum, 321 Chestnut St., will celebrate the Year of the Rat from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, with performances by Atlanta's Chien Hong School of Kung Fu Lion Dance team, Chattanooga-area Chinese folkloric dancers, martial arts demonstrations, chopsticks activities, Chinese calligraphy and a dumpling tasting. And you can participate in a virtual run sponsored by Moon Joggers, a virtual group that logs fitness miles together. You can commit to compete 2.020 miles, 20.20 miles or 202.0 miles through Feb. 8. A portion of proceeds will go to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. Sign up at www.eventbrite.com.
8. Why 8: The number 8 is considered the luckiest in Chinese culture, because its Mandarin Chinese pronunciation is close to that of a phrase meaning "to make a fortune."
Contact Lisa Denton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6281.