Lunar New Year. Wood painting by Feng Qingju. The work adopts woodcut and hand painting techniques. The theme of the child holding the carp conveys wishes for good fortune, happiness and a long life. Photo: China Intangible Heritage Industry Alliance / Google Arts & Culture collection.
Wood painting by Feng Qingju. The work adopts woodcut and hand painting techniques. The theme of the child holding the carp conveys wishes for good fortune, happiness and a long life. Photo: China Intangible Heritage Industry Alliance / Google Arts & Culture collection.

EAlthough many western nations refer to the Lunar New Year holiday as Chinese New Year, it is celebrated not only in Chinese communities around the world, but in other Asian nations such as Vietnam and South Korea. This year, the occasion starts on the 12th and ends on the 26th of February.

It is customary in countries that celebrate the Lunar New Year to offer three to seven days of public holiday, although celebrations are not completed until the 15th day of the first lunar month, also known as the Lantern Festival. Before that, the third day, called Chi Kou, is a date for visiting temples; in non-pandemic times, friends and family gather during the festivities, except for Chi Kou, as it is believed that discussions are more likely to take place on this day.

Ren Yude, tiger cutout from the China Intangible Heritage Industry Alliance collection. Photo Google Arts and Culture.
Ren Yude, tiger cutout from the China Intangible Heritage Industry Alliance collection. Photo Google Arts and Culture.

Maybe you've heard about the Chinese zodiac calendar and assigning an animal from this zodiac for each year, but it's actually a little more complex than that :uA year is not only classified by its zodiac animal, there is also a sexagenarian cycle made up of a combination of one of the 10 heavenly branches and one of the 12 earthly branches. According to the cycle, for example, February 12, 2021 marks the beginning of the year xin chou, in which “Xin” represents the heavenly rod for metal, while “chou” is the earthly branch symbol for the ox, making -the Year of the Metal Ox.

“The ox, in Chinese culture, is a hardworking sign of the zodiac. It usually means movement, so hopefully the world will be less static than last year and will start moving again in the second half of the year.”

Lunar New Year. Head of a puppet symbolizing the "Spirit of the Frog", made by Xu Zhuchu. Photo: China Intangible Heritage Industry Alliance / Google Arts & Culture collection.
Head of a puppet symbolizing the “Spirit of the Frog”, made by Xu Zhuchu. Photo: China Intangible Heritage Industry Alliance / Google Arts & Culture collection.

Em Arts of the New Moon: Lunar New Year with arts and crafts from East Asia, NGoogle's Arts & Culture platform, you can check out some shows themed around the Lunar New Year. From the meaning of red lucky envelopes to the art of paper clippings from Wei County; from Zhangzhou puppets to traditional wood paintings and the representation of the Chinese zodiac in art. To access the platform shows click here.

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