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Friday, 5 February 2016

Chinese New Year


Known as the 'Spring Festival', Chinese New Year is an important festival celebrated at the beginning of the Lunar calendar, in contrast to the Gregorian New Year, which is based on the solar calendar.

It is considered as a major holiday for those living in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and is the main Chinese cultural festival of the year. It still remains as the most economic and social holiday in China. 

When China adapted the Western calendar in 1912, the Chinese joined in the January 1st celebrations as New Year's Day; however, China continues to celebrate Chinese New Year in more traditional ways than Hong Kong, UK, USA, Australia, Canada. 

Speaking of which, it is also observed as a public holiday in numerous overseas countries with enormous Chinese communities and people of Chinese descent, such as the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Canada to name but many. Depending on the date, Chinese New Year varies in correspondence to the new moon in January or February; therefore, it changes from time to time. In China, it typically lasts for 15 days, whilst outside of China it tends to be around 2 or 3 days. 

For many Chinese people, who aren't Christians, such as myself and don't celebrate it religiously, Chinese New Year is our version of Christmas, but without Santa, snow, Xmas tree and gifts. 

A few days before Chinese New Year commences, people will tidy and clean up their homes to get rid of evil spirits and put up Red and Gold coloured new year decorations. Family and friends will get together and meet up at home or by dining at a Chinese restaurant, get involved in Chinese -related activities, watch shows and make plans for the remaining year ahead. One may see this as an extension to their new years resolutions, which are made earlier on in the year. 

According to popular myth, the roots of Chinese New Year originated from the battle against Nian: a dragon in Chinese mythology. Nian would visit various places in China and devour the cattle, crops and people. Therefore, to help ward off the dragon, the Chinese people would put food on their doorsteps, so that it wouldn't harm them. But then when they saw it was afraid of the colour red, they would put out red lanterns and envelopes, as well as set off firecrackers to scare it away. 

The primary colour in Chinese New Year traditions is red; whereas in Western traditions, red connotes evil, negativity and bad, in Chinese tradition, red is considered as a symbol of 'good luck' and positivity. Themes of good fortune, wealth, happiness, prosperity and longevity are also emphasized.  

The reunion dinner is the Chinese equivalent to Thanksgiving Day dinner in America and Christmas dinner. Dumplings, which are shaped and look like coins, are supposed to symbolise wealth.  

The Chinese zodiac symbol consists of each birth year represented by a type of animal that contains associated characteristics. It is also possible and viable to combine your Chinese zodiac star sign with that of your Western star sign to decipher more traits. 

The Chinese pronunciation of Happy New Year is 'Gong Xi Fat Cai' in Mandarin and 'Gong Hey Fat Choi' in Cantonese but they mean the same thing, regardless. 


Sources:


Chinese New Year - Wikipedia 

Top Marks - Chinese New Year  

Chinese New Year - History.com 

Chinese New Year - Calendar Labs

18 Fun Facts about The Chinese New Year - The Language Blog 

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