Gold Industry Group Partner and Member The Perth Mint celebrates Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, is one of China’s most significant social and economic holidays.
Chinese New Year is typically a week-long celebration during which families come together for feasting and to exchange gifts, and is considered one of the most important traditions in Chinese culture, much like Christmas Day is to western society.
Traditionally, Spring Festival was a time to celebrate the start of a new agricultural year, and wish for a good harvest. This has now evolved to celebrating the start of a new business year and wishing for prosperity in various vocations.
The date of Chinese New Year changes from year to year as it is determined by the Chinese Lunar Calendar. In 2016, New Year will be celebrated on Monday 8 February, marking the arrival of the Year of the Monkey. Festivities usually start the day before New Year and continue until the 15th day when the Lantern Festival begins.
Reputedly the oldest chronological record in history, the ancient Chinese Lunar Calendar dates back before 2,600BC. Based on the appearance of the new moon, it associates a different animal with each year in the 12-year lunar cycle.
Traditionally, the first year of the lunar cycle is ‘ruled’ by the mouse. According to legend, the order of the animals in Chinese astrology was determined by their race across a river. Unknown to the ox, the mouse hitched a ride on its back, leaping to victory at the very last second. The tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig followed the quick-thinking mouse and the flabbergasted ox to dry land.
In Chinese culture, each animal is believed to influence the personality of the people born under its ‘rule’. In 2016, those born under the rule of the monkey are believed to be intelligent, quick-witted, optimistic, ambitious, and adventurous.
Drawing inspiration from this popular eastern zodiac, The Perth Mint launched the world’s first gold coin series in 1995 to celebrate this exotic theme. The pure gold coins, and their pure silver counterparts which were introduced in 1999, continue to be released annually with each new year offering original animal artistry, making them sought-after gifts and valuable investments.
Focusing on the cultural origins and associations of the 12 animals in the ancient Chinese Lunar Calendar, the Australian Lunar Coin Series portrays each creature in an endearing way for Asian customers, while also appealing to other international markets.
Gold has long featured in Chinese history, dating back as far as the Han Dynasty (206BC – 220AD), with demand for the rare metal increasing during the Six Dynasties (222 – 589AD).
The Chinese’ infatuation with gold even extended to the Australian gold rushes of the 1800’s. The discovery of gold in Australia prompted an unprecedented volume of people coming to Australia to try their hand at prospecting. The majority of these new arrivals were British but also included Americans, French, Italian, German, Polish, and Hungarian exiles. However, the largest foreign contingent on the goldfields was the 40,000 Chinese.
Today, China is the one of the world’s fastest-growing markets for gold. The Chinese consider gold an exciting and aspirational gift associated with good luck, and in ancient times it was often worn by Chinese emperors, in the form of gold coloured clothing and accessories.
This precious metal is considered a treasured gift, representative of wealth, status, and prosperity, and is often given during Chinese New Year. Ornate pieces of jewellery featuring the animals of the Chinese zodiac are also purchased for their investment value as well as their beauty, and the promise of good fortune.
Celebrate this Chinese New Year with an offering of gold. For further information on the Australian Lunar Coin Series visit perthmint.com.au