This year, the Chinese New Year or also known as Lunar New Year will be celebrated by Chinese people and people with Chinese ancestry on 25 January, marking the start of the year of the Rat. Chinese New Year is a public holiday in many countries.
Chinese New Year is the celebration at the turn of the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar. Traditionally, it is a time to honor deities as well as ancestors. The Chinese New Year celebration will last from the evening before the Chinese New Year’s Day until the 15th day of the first month.
The people who celebrate Chinese New Year will usually go back to their hometown. There, they will clean their houses to sweep away any ill-fortune and make way for incoming good fortune. After that they will decorate their houses with Chinese paper-cut and Chinese couplet, with popular themes such as “good fortune”, “happiness”, “wealth”, or “longevity”. The color red will be commonly used for such decorations, as well as clothing, etc., because it symbolized joy, virtue, truth and sincerity.
On the evening before the Chinese New Year’s Day, Chinese people and people with Chinese ancestry will gather in the house of their most senior member of the family for the annual reunion dinner, where jiaozi (dumplings) or niangao (Chinese New Year cake) will be served among other dishes.
On the first and second day of the New Year, Chinese people will visit their relatives and close friends. Married members of the family will also give lai se or angpow or hongbao to junior members, a red envelope containing cash. It is a form of blessing, and the cash amount should be an even number, because odd numbers are associated with cash given during funeral.
Special events will also be held in public places, such as fireworks, parades, and dragon dances or lion dances. The dance is a symbolic ritual to expel bad spirits from the premises.
On the 15th day of the first month, a Lantern Festival or Yuanxiao Festival or Chap Go Meih will be held. Chinese people will walk the streets carrying lighted lanterns. Candles will also be lit outside houses to guide wayward spirits. The Lantern Festival marks the end of the Chinese New Year Celebration.
If you do not celebrate the Chinese New Year, but know someone who does, you could still share the spirit by wishing him or her many fortunes to come. If he or she has children, you could also give the red envelops containing cash to the children. Just remember to give an even number of cash! You could also join the festivity by watching the fireworks or the celebrated lion dance while enjoying a bite of dumplings or two!
How about you? Tell us your favorite Chinese New Year activity, or share your most memorable Chinese New Year celebration!
Xin nian kuai le! Happy Chinese New Year!