Chinese New Year is celebrated by more than 20% of the world and is a recognisable event for most of us, coming at the end of January each year. But what else should we know about Chinese New Year, and how can we become more involved with Chinese Language and Culture in Northern Ireland. Confucius at South West College has a few answers...

Every year has a zodiac animal. We know this one, don’t we? 2020 is the year of the Rat and the other zodiac animals are Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. Traditionally the Rat isn’t very popular, but all the zodiac animals have positive traits. In Chinese culture, rats were seen as a sign of wealth and surplus. Because of their reproduction rate, married couples also prayed to them for children. Perhaps strangely to us, your Zodiac year is bad luck.

It’s also known as the Spring Festival. Although we are still in winter, the end of January celebrations mark the end of the coldest days, and Chinese people celebrate and welcome spring.

Chinese New Year can vary greatly on the calendar. It can take place anytime between January 21 to February 20. This reflects the continued importance of the lunar calendar in Chinese culture. Although the country has officially moved to the Gregorian calendar, some people still calculate their ages and birthdays by the lunar calendar.

South West College celebrates CNY every year. The South West College
Confucius team celebrate Spring Festival every year. This years one of the days out included a trip to Crossmaglen. Fey Cole, Teaching and Learning Advisor for the SWC Confucius Hub said: it was so
rewarding to meet so many students who are studying Mandarin Language with us. A very warm welcome to ourselves and the UU Confucius Institute team - we hope to be back soon.

More Fireworks are set off than any other night of the year. It’s a Chinese myth that firecrackers are supposed to scare off monsters, so it’s no surprise that people stay up on Chinese New Years Eve and set off firecrackers at night.

It’s a time of huge migration. Young people in china tend to work in big cities, and migrate to more rural areas to be with their families over the holidays.

Food plays a big part. Like western holidays, Chinese New Year has plenty of food traditions. There’s a rule of eating dumplings with ever meal (even though most people don’t do it anymore), deserts have special, symbolic meanings behind them, and there is specific wine for the festival.

SWC Students ahead of a visit to China.

More people are learning to speak Chinese. At the end of last year the Confucius Classroom Hub at SWC was awarded commended status from the AoC Beacon Pears Awards. The Confucius Classroom Hub has been recognised as an outstanding example of a college's ability to embed internationalism across the college, wider regional educational system and the business community.

In 2013, The
Confucius Institute (CI)
launched Confucius Classroom Hubs to develop academic, cultural and social ties between Northern Ireland and China. Through the initiative, South West College has 12 full-time Chinese Tutors, who promote and teach Chinese language and culture in the local community.

The Confucius Institute is led by
and works in partnership with Zhejiang University and the Education Department in Hubei Province to link newly qualified graduates in China with Confucius Classrooms in NI. Speaking about SWC's commended status, Fey Cole, Teaching and Learning Advisor for the SWC Confucius Hub said:

“We are delighted to have received commended status. The benefits of the Confucius Hub are not solely realised within the college. Our team of Chinese tutors work across educational sectors including primary, post-primary and adult learners in part-time evening courses, thus shaping the international mind-set of our local learners, particularly those who may never have the opportunity to travel beyond their region. The hub has acted as the catalyst for further internationalisation, supporting the college to create a global presence and widen the horizons of our students and staff through dynamic partnerships and cultural exchange opportunities.”

SWC Students have visited China. In 2017, SWC Students from Enniskillen, Omagh and Dungannon went on the trip of a lifetime to China.
The students took off from Belfast City Airport on Saturday 18th
March for a two week adventure where they learned about Chinese culture, language and lifestyle.

For further information on the Confucius Classroom Hub, please contact
or call 028 8225 0109.