Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival, is the most important holiday for ethnic Chinese people all around the world. The Chinese calendar and dates are traditionally based on changes of the moon, not the sun. The New Year starts at the beginning of this lunar (moon) calendar, and ends with Lantern Festival which is on the 15th day.
People celebrate this festival for fifteen days. On the holiday's eve, families come together to eat a meal in the evening. This meal is called the reunion dinner. No matter how far away they are, Chinese people will try to visit with their families at least this one time of the year. not only enjoying the meal but also watching a New Year Eve's gala with family members. Married daughters also return to visit their parents.
Early new year[change | change source]
Chinese people visit their grandparents, parents, friends and relatives during the first few days of the New Year. Older and married people give the younger ones red paper packets called hongbao in Mandarin (Lai See in Cantonese). This packet has money inside it. It is believed to bring luck.
Chinese people wear new clothes when they go on visits. This clothing is usually red in color. They say special phrases to wish other people good luck when they see them. They also exchange mandarin oranges for good luck.
Late new year[change | change source]
The last day of the New Year celebration is called the Lantern Festival, or the Yuanxiao. On this day, families cook dumplings made of sticky rice. They eat them in a sweet soup. There are also many beautiful lanterns that decorate the streets in China and Chinatowns. Traditionally, on this day, adults can choose a partner. Long ago in China, this would have been one of the few days when women of rich families were allowed to go outside their houses with their maids.
Beginning[change | change source]
|鼠 Rat||子 Zi||February 19, 1996||February 7, 2008||January 25, 2020|
|牛 Ox||丑 Chou||February 7, 1997||January 26, 2009||February 14, 2021|
|虎 Tiger||寅 Yin||January 28, 1998||February 14, 2010||February 25, 2022|
|兔 Rabbit||卯 Mao||February 16, 1999||February 3, 2011||January 27, 2023|
|龍 Dragon||辰 Chen||February 5, 2000||January 23, 2012||February 14, 2024|
|蛇 Snake||巳 Si||January 24, 2001||February 10, 2013||January 19, 2025|
|馬 Horse||午 Wu||February 12, 2002||January 31, 2014||February 21, 2026|
|羊 Goat||未 Wei||February 1, 2003||February 19, 2015||February 26, 2027|
|猴 Monkey||申 Shen||January 22, 2004||February 8, 2016||January 14, 2028|
|雞 Rooster||酉 You||February 9, 2005||January 28, 2017||February 2, 2029|
|狗 Dog||戌 Xu||January 29, 2006||February 16, 2018||February 17, 2030|
|豬 Pig||亥 Hai||February 18, 2007||February 5, 2019||January 20, 2031|
Chinese New Year starts on the first day of the new year that has a new moon. It ends with the Lantern Festival 14 days later. This occurs around the time of the full moon as each complete moon cycle is about 29.53 days long. In the Gregorian calendar used in other countries, Chinese New Year falls on different dates each year. It is usually between January 21 and February 20. This means that the holiday usually starts on the second (sometimes the third) new moon after the winter solstice.
Animal zodiacs[change | change source]
The dates for the Spring Festival from 1996 to 2019 (in the Gregorian calendar) are at the right. The list also includes the year's animal zodiac and it's earthly branch. The names of the earthly branches have no English translations. They are not Chinese translations of the animals. The calendar has a 12-year cycle of the animal zodiac and a 10-year cycle of heavenly stems. Each of the ten heavenly stems is associated with one of the five elements of Chinese astrology. These elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. The elements are changed every two years and a yin and yang association changes every year. The elements are named: Yang Wood, Yin Wood, Yang Fire, Yin Fire, and so on. These two cycles create a combined cycle that repeats every 60 years. For example, 1936 was the year of the Yang Fire Rat. 60 years later, 1996 was the next year of the Yang Fire Rat.
Differences[change | change source]
Some people have problems with the difference between the Chinese birth-year and the Gregorian birth-year. Because the Chinese New Year starts in late January or early February, the Chinese year begins several weeks after it begins in the Gregorian calendar. If a person is born in early January, their Chinese birth-year is the last Gregorian year, not the current one. This causes problems because many people think of the years as the same. For example, 1989 was the year of the Snake. The year 1990 was the year of the Horse. It began on 26 January 1990. This means that anyone born from January 1 to January 25, 1990, was actually born in the year of the Snake not the year of the Horse.
Comparison[change | change source]
Chinese New Year is a great festival to Chinese. But it is celebrated differently in China and the West. People in China normally take at least three days off. They go to see a colorful church fair in Beijing and to see martial arts performances. In Guangzhou and Hong Kong, they go to see flower markets, night markets, horse racing and firework shows. However in the West, like California and Canada, they normally celebrate in Chinatowns. People eat Chinese food, exchange presents, and clothing. They have dragon parades and marching bands. The celebration lasts for two weeks.
Griffin, Robert H., and Ann H. Shurgin. Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Holidays. Detroit, MI: UXL, 2000. Print. Wu, Annie. "The Top 4 Cities For Celebrating Chinese New Year 2016". ChinaHighlights. N.p., 2016. Web. 23 May 2016.
Festive food[change | change source]
Chinese people often want to aim for better luck and success in a new year by eating certain types of food. They choose those dishes that may contain symbolic significance. Some dishes are chosen based on their pronunciation and look in order to bring luck throughout the year. For example, people like to eat dumplings during the festival, since dumplings, made of flour dough with meat inside, are shaped like a silver ingot. They could symbolize that a person could make more money as they eat more dumplings. Spring rolls, food containing rice paper with vegetables and meat, were like gold bars that could bring them more money too.
Oranges and tangerines look like gold coins, and their Chinese names sound like gold, lucky, and sweetness. It is believed that they can bring wealth and luck. Fish is also one of the popular dishes to eat during the Lunar New Year. Fish is often served last because "fish"means abundant.
Taboos[change | change source]
Chinese people try to avoid doing bad things that may affect their luck in the beginning of a new year. For example, hair washing is forbidden since hair has the same sound as getting rich in Chinese characters. It is suggested that cleaning your hair will wash away your luck. Crying, especially babies will lead to bad fortune for the family. People cannot wear black, white or damaged clothes during the festival because they are unlucky colors related to death.
Furthermore, sweeping and clothes washing may bring you bad luck. It could wash your luck away. No breaking tools during Chinese New Year because it will cause a reduction of wealth. No one should say bad words. The Chinese word, four has the same sound as death. Therefore, ghost stories or death are forbidden subjects during Chinese New Year.
Chinese traditional customs[change | change source]
Chinese people like to prepare before celebrating the Chinese New Year. Cleaning the house is one of the traditional ways that every family will do. It believed that sweeping can sweep away the old things and greet the New Year. People also would do shopping, they would buy food, new clothes, and decorations.
Likewise, people will hang up spring couplets and decorations in their house. They would like to put a God image, a picture of a God, in front of the door to scare the evilness during Chinese New Year. Many families will hold a family reunion dinner, this is the most important meal throughout the year. Relatives may come back and join with their family members celebrating the wonderful festival.
Wu, Annie. "Chinese New Year Celebrations, New Year Activities In China". ChinaHighlights. N.p., 2016. Web. 23 May 2016.
Reference[change | change source]
- Wu, Annie (16 February 2016). "Chinese Lantern Festival". China Highlights. China Highlights. http://www.chinahighlights.com/festivals/lantern-festival.htm. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
- Wu, Annie (4 January, 2016). "The 4 Best Cities for Chinese New Year 2016". China Highlights. China Highlights. http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/festivals/chinese-new-year-best-cities.htm. Retrieved 7 June, 2016.
- Wu, Annie (30 March, 2016). "Chinese Dumplings". Chinese Dumplings. China Highlights. http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-food/chinese-dumplings.htm. Retrieved 3 June, 2016.
- Wu, Annie. "Chinese New Year Taboos - Things You Should Not Do During Chinese New Year". China Highlights. China Highlights. http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/festivals/chinese-new-year-taboos.htm. Retrieved 7 June, 2016.
- Wu, Annie (23 December, 2014). "Chinese couplets". Chinese Couples. China Highlights. http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/culture/chinese-couplets.htm. Retrieved 3 June, 2016.