Celebrated primarily in China, but followed by the majority of countries in East and South East Asia, the Lunar New Year - the Year of the (metal) Ox - officially begins on the 12th of February.

However most sword forges, component makers and shipping services have already or are about to shut down as the celebration typically extends one to two weeks either side of the actual Lunar New Years day..

In practical terms for the sword industry (as indeed, like it or not, around 80-85% of all 'functional' swords are made in China) clearly it is not a good time to try and order anything from China directly yourself.

True enough that while there is still some activity at the time of writing this overview article - some last minute shipments and restocks both small and large are indeed still underway - overall things probably wont return to 'normal' stock wise and activity wise over there until sometime in mid to late march.

As such, don't be surprised if you see some popular entry level product lines running low on stock (for example A.P.O.C., Ryujin, Hanwei, etc) as China is effectively about to step out of the game for a month. But at the same time, keep your eye out on local and non Chinese imports, as they clearly have an 'competition from China' free month - and no doubt many will try to and should capitalize on it.

All in all a bit of chaotic start to the year, but I think we will see a fair amount of consolidation in the sword industry in 2021 as it re-balances and continue to expand and mature.

All very interesting, and suggests that our small niche hobby, while far from completely "safe", has certainly proved quite resilient in the last 10 years.

And it's quite possible that in 2021 it will finally be strong enough to start branching out and expanding into even more new directions and opportunities.

We will see soon enough I guess!