Chinese New Year

I am of a pinoy with a Chinese ancestry, celebrations here begin as early as October (preparations for Christmas), then November (Honoring the Dead), then Christmas, Regular New Year, the Sinulog Grand Parade then comes the Chinese new year and Valentines Day (October to February, so many Celebrations). On the Chinese New year, we do some but not all of the Chinese traditions since we are Christians.


It is unclear when the beginning of the year was celebrated before the Qin Dynasty. Traditionally, the year was said to have begun with month 1 during the Xia Dynasty, month 12 during the Shang Dynasty, and month 11 during the Zhou Dynasty. However, records show that the Zhou Dynasty began its year with month 1. Intercalary months, used to keep the lunar calendar synchronized with the sun, were added after month 12 during both the Shang Dynasty (according to surviving oracle bones) and the Zhou Dynasty (according to Sima Qian). The first Emperor of China Qin Shi Huang changed the beginning of the year to month 10 in 221 BC, also changing the location of the intercalary month to after month 9. Whether the New Year was celebrated at the beginning of month 10, of month 1, or both is unknown. In 104 BC, Emeror Wu of the Han Dynasty established month 1 as the beginning of the year, where it remains. This year the Chinese New Year will be on Thursday, February 7, 2008.

Days before the new year, Chinese families give their home a thorough cleaning. It is believed the cleaning sweeps away the bad luck of the preceding year and makes their homes ready for good luck. Brooms and dust pans are put away on the first day so that luck cannot be swept away. Some people give their homes, doors and window-panes a new coat of red paint. Homes are often decorated with paper cutouts of Chinese auspicious phrases and couplets. Purchasing new clothing, shoes and receiving a hair-cut also symbolize a fresh start.

First day of the new year, is for the welcoming of the deities of the heavens and earth. Many people, especially Buddhists, abstain from meat consumption on the first day because it is believed that this will ensure longevity for them. Some consider lighting fires and using knives to be bad luck on New Year's Day, so all food to be consumed is cooked the day before. Most importantly, the first day of Chinese New Year is a time when families visit the oldest and most senior members of their extended family, usually their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents.

Seventh day of the new year, traditionally known as renri 人日, the common man's birthday, the day when everyone grows one year older.

Fifteenth day of the new year, Candles are lit outside houses as a way to guide wayward spirits home. This day is celebrated as the Lantern Festival , and families walk the street carrying lighted lanterns. This day often marks the end of the Chinese New Year festivities.

Reunion dinner, held on New Year's Eve where members of the family, near and far away, get together for the celebration. The venue will usually be in or near the home of the most senior member of the family. The New Year's Eve dinner is very sumptuous and traditionally includes chicken and Fish

New Year practices

Red packets

Traditionally, Red envelopes or red packets; Hokien: 'ang pow' are passed out during the Chinese New Year's celebrations, from married couples or the elderly to unmarried juniors. It is common for adults to give red packets to children. Red packets are also known as (Ya Sui Qian, which was evolved from literally, the money used to suppress or put down the evil spirit ) during this period.

Red envelopes always contain money, usually varying from a couple of dollars to several hundred. The amount of money in the red packets should be of even numbers , as odd numbers are associated with cash given during funerals (Bai Jin). Since the number 4 is considered bad luck, because the word for four is a homophone for daeth, money in the red envelopes never adds up to 4. However, the number 8 is considered lucky (for its homophone for "wealth"), and 8 is commonly found in the red envelopes. Sometimes chocolate coins are found in the red packets.

Clothing mainly featuring the color red is commonly worn throughout the Chinese New Year because it is believed that red will scare away evil spirits and bad fortune. In addition, people typically wear new clothes from head to toe to symbolize a new beginning in the new year. The Koi Fish is usually seen in paintings. Decorated food depicting the fish can also be found. It symbolizes surplus or having additional savings so as to have more than enough to live throughout the remaining year.

Yuanbao ingots The gold yuanbao symbolizes money and/or wealth. Yuanbao shaped ingots were the standard medium of exchange in ancient China.

Lanterns differ from those of Mid Autumn Festival in general. They will be red in color and tend to be oval in shape. These are the traditional Chinese paper lanterns. Those lanterns, used on the fifteenth day of the Chinese New Year for the Lantern Festival, are bright, colorful, and in many different sizes and shapes.

Lion Dances are common during Chinese New Year. It is believed that the loud beats of the drum and the deafening sounds of the cymbals together with the face of the lion dancing aggressively can evict bad or evil spirits. Lion dances are also popular for opening of businesses in Hong Kong.

Chinese New Year Chinese New Year Reviewed by Vernon Joseph Go on Wednesday, February 06, 2008 Rating: 5

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