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Understanding Chinese New Year Traditions

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Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. In China, it is also known as the Spring Festival, the literal translation of the modern Chinese name. Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally ran from Chinese New Year’s Day itself, the first day of the first month of the Chinese calendar, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month, making the festival the longest in the Chinese calendar. Because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, the Chinese New Year is often referred to as the “Lunar New Year”.

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The origin of Chinese New Year is itself centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Traditionally, the festival was a time to honour deities as well as ancestors. Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, including Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Philippines, and also in Chinatowns elsewhere. Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had influence on the lunar new year celebrations of its geographic neighbours.

Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese new year vary widely. Often, the evening preceding Chinese New Year’s Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red colour paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of “good fortune” or “happiness”, “wealth”, and “longevity. ” Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes.

The lunisolar Chinese calendar determines the date of Chinese New Year. The calendar is also used in countries that have adopted or have been influenced by Han culture, notably the Koreans, Japanese and Vietnamese. In the Gregorian calendar, Chinese New Year falls on different dates each year, a date between January 21 and February 20. In the Chinese calendar, winter soltice must occur in the 11th month, which means that Chinese New Year usually falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice (rarely the third if an intercalary month intervenes).

In traditional Chinese Culture, lichun is a solar term marking the start of spring, which occurs about February 4. The dates for Chinese New Year from 1996 to 2031 (in the Gregorian calendar) are above, along with the year’s presiding animal zodiac and its earthly branch. The names of the earthly branches have no English counterparts and are not the Chinese translations of the animals. Alongside the 12-year cycle of the animal zodiac there is a 10-year cycle of heavenly stems.

Each of the ten heavenly stems is associated with one of the five elements of Chinese astrology, namely: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. The elements are rotated every two years while a yin and yang association alternates every year. The elements are thus distinguished: Yang Wood, Yin Wood, Yang Fire, Yin Fire, etc. These produce a combined cycle that repeats every 60 years. For example, the year of the Yang Fire Rat occurred in 1936 and in 1996, 60 years apart. Many confuse their Chinese birth-year with their Gregorian birth-year.

As the Chinese New Year starts in late January to mid-February, the Chinese year dates from January 1 until that day in the new Gregorian year remain unchanged from the previous Gregorian year. For example, the 1989 year of the snake began on February 6, 1989. The year 1990 is considered by some people to be the year of the horse. However, the 1989 year of the snake officially ended on February 8, 1990. This means that anyone born from January 1 to February 7, 1990 was actually born in the year of the snake rather than the year of the horse.

Many online Chinese Sign calculators do not account for the non-alignment of the two calendars, using Gregorian-calendar years rather than official Chinese New Year dates. One scheme of continuously numbered Chinese-calendar years assigns 4709 to the year beginning , 2011, but this is not universally accepted; the calendar is traditionally cyclical, not continuously numbered. Why People Celebrate Chinese New Year Chinese New Year is the Chinese community’s largest and most important annual festivity.

Signifying the start of the new lunar calendar year, the Chinese community will hold celebrations and festivities for fifteen days. It is customary to bring in the New Year by purchasing new clothing and getting a new and tidy haircut. However, the reason why people celebrate Chinese New Year is far more significant – yet blatantly similar to all other cultures – than just an opportunity to receive a bit of money and wear new clothes. Back when there were no decorations or elaborate performances that are associated with festive occasions – there was people spending time and enjoying the company of other people.

Family and friends are the reason why Chinese New Year is not only significant for the Chinese community, but also for anyone lucky enough to experience the festivities from the outside. Why Do They Have Reunion Dinner Reunion Dinner is a thanksgiving prayer offering to mark the safe passage of the previous year is held. Confucianists take the opportunity to remember the ancestors, and those who had lived before them are revered. The biggest event of any Chinese New Year’s Eve is the Reunion Dinner. A dish consisting of fish will appear on the tables of Chinese families.

It is for display for the New Year’s Eve dinner. This meal is comparable to Christmas dinner in the West. In northern China, it is customary to make dumplings after dinner to eat around midnight. Dumplings symbolize wealth because their shape resembles a Chinese tael. By contrast, in the South, it is customary to make a glutinous new year cake and send pieces of it as gifts to relatives and friends in the coming days of the new year. Niangao literally means “new year cake” with a homophonous meaning of “increasingly prosperous year in year out”

Symbolic of Chinese New Year Lion dance troupe as a symbolic ritual to usher in the Chinese New Year as well as to evict bad spirits from the premises. Members of the family who are married also give red packets containing cash known as lai see or angpow, a form of blessings and to suppress the aging and challenges associated with the coming year, to junior members of the family, mostly children and teenagers. Business managers also give bonuses through red packets to employees for good luck, smooth-sailing, good health and wealth .

While fireworks and firecrackers are traditionally very popular, some regions have banned them due to concerns over fire hazards. “sugarcane” (kam-chia) is a near homonym to “thank you” (kam-sia) in the Hokkien dialect, Hokkiens offer sugarcane on the eve of his birthday, symbolic of their gratitude. One common example of Chinese New Year symbolism is the red diamond-shaped fu characters , which are displayed on the entrances of Chinese homes. This sign is usually seen hanging upside down . Therefore, it symbolizes the arrival of luck, happiness, and prosperity.

Cite this Understanding Chinese New Year Traditions

Understanding Chinese New Year Traditions. (2016, Nov 08). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/understanding-chinese-new-year-traditions/

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