Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year (Lunar New Year), is the most important holiday in the Chinese calendar and culture.
The holiday is a 15 day festival filled with reunions among family and friends, an abundance of varieties of delicious foods and wishes for the New Year filled with prosperity, joy and good fortune to follow.
The Chinese New Year is all about hope and the spirit of renewals.
The holiday’s traditions, symbolism and rituals are about wiping out the old, and making new path for prosperity, good luck and happiness in the New Year.
Every Chinese New Year represents a new beginning.
Today, Chinese New Year is celebrated using fireworks and having family dinners by more than a billion people around the World.
The Spring Festival
Chinese New Year is closely associated with the agricultural cycle.
After months of dreadful cold, the first day of the New Lunar Year represents the Dawn of Spring, and with it come along all the hope for prosperity and a rich harvest in the year ahead.
As a ritual, families are holding to a strict schedule of cleaning, paying off old debts, cooking and decorating during the week prior to Chinese New Year and all to welcome it with a clear path ahead.
It is all about symbolism and believe.
On New Year’s Eve, families come together for a joyful and abundant reunion dinner before staying up late into the night, and welcoming the New Year by lighting firecrackers and opening the home’s windows and doors.
The days following New Year’s Day are filled by visits from friends and family, gift giving and messages of good luck.
15 Day Celebration
The 15 days of Chinese New Year, are Chinese festival season that stretches from the new moon on New Year’s Day until the full moon on the Lantern Festival.
Day 1: Celebration Of The New Year’s Day
After the last firecrackers have fizzled out and everyone’s gone to sleep after midnight, morning dawns to welcome the New Year.
The Chinese believe that New Year’s Day sets the tone for the rest of the year, so it is generally a quiet day filled with positive thoughts among adults and good behavior among children.
At home, New Year’s Day is all about rest and relaxation — there’s no cooking or cleaning allowed, and most families eat leftovers or the traditional Buddhist vegetarian dish called jai.
Day 2: Visiting Family And Fiends
The second day begins with a procession of visiting friends and family.
Guest are welcomed with tea and candied sweets from an octagonal Togetherness Tray, hospitality which is reciprocated with red envelopes and small gifts for the household.
Traditionally, the second day is when married women return home with their husbands after celebrating New Year’s Eve with their in laws.
Day 3: Stay At Home
Superstition holds that the third day is bad luck for socializing, filled with the potential of having quarrels and disagreements among family and friends.
While the most superstitious will spend all day at home and out of harm’s way, it’s more common to simply spend the third day relaxing after an intense period of celebration.
Day 4 : Worshiping The Gods
Heavenly spirits like the Kitchen God and the God of Wealth are believed that visit the Earth on the fourth day. It’s auspicious to prepare a big dinner and make offerings of incense, food and spirit money to welcome these deities and ensure a prosperous year ahead.
Day 5: God Of Wealth
The fifth day celebrates the birthday of the God of Wealth (Po Wu) and marks the point when many New Year’s taboos can be broken.
For instance, it’s safe to sweep and empty the trash again, and many local businesses will reopen. The most superstitious will stay at home on the fifth day, in case the God of Wealth comes calling.
Day 6: Sending Away The Ghost Of Poverty
After welcoming the God of Wealth on the fifth day, the sixth day is used to send off the Ghost of Poverty. It’s a good day to discard everything old: old clothes, clean out the garage and discard other rubbish lying around the house.
Day 7: Celebration Of Humans
The seventh day commemorates Nu Wa – the ancient Goddess who is believed to have created mankind from a yellow clay.
On this day, Chinese people eat different healthy foods symbolizing abundance, prosperity and long life, such as qi bao geng (a thick vegetable soup), longevity noodles and yu sheng (a raw fish salad).
Day 8: The Birthday Of Rice
The eighth day is for celebration of rice, the most essential Chinese food. It’s a good time to teach children where their food comes from, as well as the general importance of agriculture itself.
It is a good day to visit a neighborhood farm or your local farmer’s market.
Day 9: Birthday Of The Jade Emperor
The ninth day is the birthday of the Jade Emperor, the supreme deity of Taoism. This event is marked by feasting and offerings in his honor, up to and including the sacrifice of a live chicken. Ups…!
Day 10-12: More Visits And Feasts
The 10-12 day of Chinese New Year don’t carry much of significance. It is time for more visits among family and friends, along with the associated eating, drinking and celebration.
Day 13: Cleanse(Detox)
The first twelve days of Chinese New Year are filled with rich and often greasy foods.
Vegetarian dishes like rice and greens are favored on the thirteenth day to help sooth the digestive system a bit!
With the Lantern Festival just two days away, the thirteenth day is also a good opportunity to go shopping for lanterns and ingredients for tang yuan.
Day 14: Decoration Of Lanterns
The 14th day is preamble to the next day’s Lantern festival. Families prepare lanterns and make tang yuan, while dragon and lion dance teams practice for the upcoming festivities.
Day 15: The Lantern Festival
The Lantern festival highlights the 15th and final day of Chinese New Year. The night sky is awash with colorful lanterns as families stroll together under the first full moon of the year.
In the past, the Lantern Festival was a romantic evening when young lovers would find their matches.
Resembling the full moon, tang yuan are the traditional food of the Lantern Festival and symbolize family reunion.
How To Decorate
Chinese New Year decorations use calligraphy, poetry, plants and food to express hopes for happiness, good luck and prosperity.
By keeping the house filled with auspicious symbols, the hope is that the family living inside will be surrounded by good fortune throughout the coming year.
After The Celebration
Celebrating Chinese New Year for some can feel like running a marathon. The holiday involves at least a week of preparation prior to New Year’s Day, followed by two weeks of feasts, family visits and celebration.
Each step of the way throughout these celebrations is an opportunity to create more family memories, teach the kids of the elements of Chinese culture and have so much fun.
Chinese New Year is the most highly anticipated Chinese holiday of the year for good reason – it’s a time of high spirits, new flow of clean energy and many happy reunions to follow.
Isn’t that the best of everything?
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