Chinese New Year commemorated in coin set

17th Oct 2013

Anyone who has been on group tours to China to mark its new year will know how vigorously the country celebrates the occasion as one of its leading festivals and events.

Now Britons can toast the new Chinese calendar every year with the launch of inaugural UK legal tender coins to commemorate its zodiac cycle.

But there is no better destination to see the festivities than in China itself.

The three-day festival dates back to the 21st century BC when it is believed Chinese people celebrated the harvest, giving thanks to the gods and revering the family ancestors. Today, families gather on New Year's Eve for a special banquet where spirits of the ancestors are still honoured. Firecrackers, warding off evil spirits, dragon and lions dances, and lantern displays also feature heavily.

The Royal Mint has manufactured gold and silver versions of the "lucky" Lunar coins.

The first in the new series is dated 2014 to mark the oncoming Year of the Horse (January 31, 2014 to February 18, 2015).

They are being produced as limited editions, with 8,888 Year of the Horse coins minted overall because the number eight is thought lucky in Chinese culture.

The latest coin brings together British and Chinese heritage.

In the forefront is a strong jumping horse, representing the traits linked to people born in the Year of the Horse - talkative, charming, lively and strong.

Under the horse's feet lies the Uffington Horse, a prehistoric white horse which is carved into Oxfordshire's chalk hills.

Prices vary from £57.50 for a silver edition of the coin to £1,950 for a 1oz solid gold coin.

The collection's initial design can be ordered from the Royal Mint's website.

Artist Wuon-Gean Ho, who is of Chinese descent and was born in the UK, created the design for the new coin.

The new collection was unveiled as London Mayor Boris Johnson suggested British children should learn Chinese language Mandarin as standard in schools.

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