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Chinese New Year 2023 started on Sunday 22 January 2023.
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL FRIENDS WHO CELEBRATE CHINESE AND LUNAR NEW YEAR
New Lunar is arguably the most important occasion for all people of Chinese origin, descent, and territories. Chinese New Year is celebrated by more than 20% population of the world – around 1.6 billion people. It is the most important holiday in China and for Chinese people around the world.
Chines New Year, or New Lunar Year is also celebrated in Vietnam with great fervor, passion, and devotion. I have lived and worked in Vietnam for two and a half years, and I have seen it first-hand.
People following Gregorian Calendar (Jan-Dec) mark the new year only with celebrations, some gifts, wishes and parties, mostly on the new year night. Chinese New Year is a very long and serious affair with rules about what to wear, what to eat, what to gift, what colors to choose, how to behave and all that. There are prayers and special activities. Chinese believe that their luck in the new year will depend on what they do during New Year festivities.
Let me take you through some aspects of the Chinese New Year.
Chinese New Year is also called Lunar New Year, for example, in Vietnam and Koreas. It is also called Spring Festival. Since it is based on Lunar movement, therefore, there is no set date for the beginning of the year. This year, it has started on January 22, 2023, and it will last until 8 February 2024.
Chinese New Year has a history of over 4,000 years; it is the longest holiday also in China. The national holiday begins on the first day of the Lunar Calendar and lasts until the 15th day (the full moon).
Chinese Years are based on the names of animals and nature elements. Each year has a zodiac based on an animal, and twelve-month cycles are associated with five element of nature. This year is the Year of the Rabbit; and the nature element ‘Water’. Next Rabbit Year shall be in 2035 with nature element ‘Wood’. A full cycle is completed in sixty years.
Chinese New Year celebrations are a series of three festivals. Prior to Spring Festival is Laba Festival which starts on a date during the last month of the Lunar Year (31 December was the date in 2023). Memorial ceremonies are held on this day to pray to ancestors and gods for fortune and successful harvest. The main food for this festival is Laba porridge which is cooked with seven types of grains. It is surrounded by many myths whose main theme is to be grateful and not taking what you have for granted.
Then comes Spring Festival, which is long and has prescribed foods, specific activities, and traditions for each day. Spring Festival ends at Lantern Festival, which will fall on February 5th this year.
Lantern Festival was celebrated for ten days during the time of Ming Dynasty, but now it is celebrated for five days. The most important activity is creating lanterns. Lantern Riddles is a game played by writing Riddles on lanterns. Another activity is to gaze at the moon through the lanterns. Prescribed food is glutinous rice balls often eaten as dessert. Whether boiled, steamed, or fried, they represent reunions.
The overarching spirit of all celebrations is family, reunion, gratitude, offerings to gods, and ask for good fortune in the new year. Money is distributed by elders to youngers, and usually a red pocket envelop is used for the purpose.
Chinese believe that the people carry the characteristics of the animal in whose year they are borne. If you were born in the Year of the Rabbit (2011,1999,1987,1975,1963,1951), you will carry the following characteristics taken from the Rabbit.
- Men – are extraordinarily polite and try to avoid conflicts. They tend to be conservative and have good control on themselves. They appear to be flexible, but they do have a line which they would not cross. They like organizing things, and more likely to help their wives with home chores. They make great friends, but still manage to keep distance.
- Women – are quite social. They treat everyone politely and thoughtfully. They carry their public image with great caution, and do not get into arguments and violence. They love deeply, and show who they love, and whom they don’t. They are steadfast in relationships and put everything in their relationship. The deeper they go, the more likely are they are to get hurt.
Rabbits are most compatible with Dog, Pig, and Goat, least compatible with Rooster, Dragon, and Rat. Red, Pink, Purple, and Blue are considered lucky, while Brown, Grey, and White are considered unlucky.
Here are some things to do during New Year celebrations.
- Chinese culture is influenced by Confucianism. Manners, politeness, and respect for age, status, and rank are integral to it. Visit the elders, first in the family, and then others, and do bring gifts.
- Take money which the elders give, it will bring money all year
- The most important meal of the year is the New Year’s Eve Reunion Dinner, attended by family and loved ones. There will be many more dinners. Arrange, attend, and enjoy dinners.
- It is a time for praying to the ancestors and gods, so that you may have good harvests
- Fight off monsters using firecrackers
- Make fireworks to scare off bad luck and welcome New Year
- Include eating dumplings for every meal, every day
- Decorate everything Red
Here are the taboos, things which should not be done during the New Year celebration to ensure that the good fortune shall come to you.
- Do not say negative and dark words, so that your fortune may not be jinxed
- Do not break ceramics or glass, or your connection to fortune may be broken
- Do not clean or sweep, or your fortune may also be swept away
- Do not use scissors, knives, or other sharp objects, so that your fortune may not be cut on pierced
- Do not visit the wife’s family on the first day; visit on the second day
- Do not demand debt repayment, as it may bring bad luck to both parties
- Avoid fighting and crying, so that the year passes peacefully
- Avoid taking medicine, so that you may not have to take medicine throughout the year
- Do not give New Year Blessings to someone still in bed, or they may be bedridden all year
- Do not bring forbidden gifts to others, such as clocks
There is plenty more to write about Chinese New Year, but we may end up here.
Happy New Chinese Year to all Chinese Friends.
Happy New Lunar Year to all Vietnamese Friends
Disclaimer: Most pictures in these blogs are taken from Google Images and Pexels. Credit is given where known; some do not show copyright ownership. However, if a claim is lodged at any stage, we shall either mention the ownership clearly, or remove the picture with suitable regrets.
Year of the Rabbit: Fortune and Personality – Chinese Zodiac