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The Chinese New Year Tradition

kitty_chinese.pngChinese New Year (Spring Festival) is one of the most important and celebrated holidays in the Chinese Culture. This event is considered a long and major holiday in China and is also observed in most countries that have ethnic Chinese communities. But did you know how the Chinese New Year started?

Legend has it that a wild beast named Nien appears in a village every time New Year starts to attack villagers, pillage their goods and crops, and eat children. To counter the beast, the villagers used fireworks and loud noises; and so started the Chinese New Year celebration.

But of course, that is just a myth.

On a more historic note, the beginnings of the Chinese New Year is quite vague, since a lot of historians claim differently on the new year’s exact beginnings. Although, it is quite clear that when to start celebrating the Chinese New Year has changed throughout the time.

Traditionally, the celebration started during the 1st month in the Xia Dynasty, 11th month during the Zhou Dynasty, and 12th month during the Shang Dynasty. But when Qin Shi Huang became the First emperor of China, he changed the beginning of the year to the 10th month. Later on during the 104 BC, Han Dynasty’s Emperor Wu declared the beginning of the year to be month 1, and is still being followed as of today.

The 15-day celebration:

One thing that makes the Chinese New Year special is its 15 day celebration. Here’s a summary of what happens during those days:

First Day: Chinese, especially the Buddhists, believes that the first day of the New Year is the welcoming of the gods of heaven and earth. Abstaining from meat during this day is observed.

Second day: Married daughters usually visit their birth parents during this day. Chinese also pray to their ancestors and to their gods on this day.

Third and fourth day: Chinese usually don’t do much visiting during this day, because they believe it will only bring arguments and disagreements. Instead, these 2 days are for visiting dead relatives and friends on their graves.

Fifth day: This is the birth date of the god of wealth. To celebrate this, Taiwanese usually reopen their shops on this day.

Seventh day: this day is known as the common man’s day, where everyone gets a year older.

Ninth day: Taoists believe that this day is the birth date of the Jade Emperor of the heaven. The Hokkiens usually offer prayers and sugar cane to the Emperor on this day.

Fifteenth day: The end of the Chinese New Year. People usually walk the streets at night carrying lanterns. They also light candles outside of their homes to guide lost spirits back home.

Symbols:

The Chinese culture has a lot of symbols that usually represents good health, prosperity and fortune.

Red Envelopes – hong bao in Mandarin, ang pao in Hokkien, or lai shi in Cantonese, these red envelopes are given to Children and unmarried adults. Within it usually contains money, or chocolate money for children, symbolizing good fortune. The amount usually sums up to 8 or an amount with the number 8 because it sounds the same as “wealth” when pronounced in Chinese. The amount having the number 4 is usually discouraged in putting inside the red envelope as it is considered bad luck, having 4 as a homophone for “death.”

Red Clothing – The color red is believed to scare away bad spirits and bad luck, which is why this color is worn on New Years.

Flowers – Flower decorations at Chinese households also signify something:

a. Chrysanthemum - logetivity

b. Kumquat - prosperity

c. Narcissus - prosperity

d. Peach Blossom - luck

e. Sunflower - in wishing of a good year

kitty_chinese_ecard.jpg

Happy Chinese New Year to you all! We wish you good luck, fortune, health and prosperity in the Year of the Ox!

44 Responses to “The Chinese New Year Tradition”

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    Wow, interesting break-down of the New Years :] So, do you do all of this during the New Years too? xD

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