2020 marks the year of the rat!
On Saturday, Jan. 25, Chinese people all around the world will celebrate Chinese New Year, otherwise known as the Lunar New Year. The Chinese festival celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar, and this year is the year of the rat.
Chinese New Year is a major holiday in Greater China, but other neighboring countries like Korea and Japan celebrate it too as they have been greatly influenced by China. Countries like Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines and Malaysia also have significant Chinese populations, so Chinese New Year is also heavily celebrated there as well.
The festival is traditionally a time to honor deities and ancestors. Customs and traditions include preparing gourmet meals, cleaning the house, shopping, pasting the “Fu” character, which means good fortune or happiness, and eating dumplings.
While these are normal customs in regions where there is a high population of Chinese, Starbucks Japan is bringing in a little modernity by debuting a new line of drinkware and lifestyle goods that bear the classic Japanese symbols of prosperity.
In Japan, New Year’s is called Oshogatsu, and on the drinkware, images of two maneki neko or beckoning cats with their paws raised up wave in good fortune can be seen. There’s also an image of Mt. Fuji; Japanese folk wisdom says that if the first dream of the year is of the famous mountain, then that person will experience good things in the new year.
There are also bright red mugs that feature an adorable image of the Chinese Zodiac, including the rat as well as plum blossom patterns. Another good-luck symbol featured on the drinkware is the daruma, a round doll that grants wishes. Other mugs and tumblers feature cute images of sumo wrestlers, ninja bears and Shiba inu dogs.