Saturday, February 2, 2008


CHINESE New Year celebration lasts for 15 DAYS. This year the Chinese New Year is celebrated under the RAT sign. It is said that those born under the Chinese Zodiac of the RAT are quick-witted, clever, charming, sharp and are funny. RAT(TERS) have excellent taste, are good friend, generous and loyal to others considered parts of it pack. They are motivated by money. They can be greedy and ever curious. RAT(TERS) are seeker of knowledge and they welcome challenges thrown at them.

The first day is reserved for the welcoming of the gods of the heavens and earth. On this first day of Chinese New Year, many people abstain from eating meat. They believe this will ensure long and happy lives.

The 2nd day of Chinese New Year is for praying. The Chinese pray for their ancestors and also to all the gods. They pay special attention to dogs, treating them kindly as they believe that the second day is the birthday of all dogs.

The 3rd and 4th days of Chinese New Year are for sons-in-law to pay respect to their parents-in-law.

The 5th day of Chinese New Year is called Po Woo. People will stay at home on this day of Chinese New Year to welcome the God of Wealth. No visits takes place on the fifth day of Chinese New Year since they believe it will bring bad luck to both parties.

From the 6th to the 10th day of Chinese New of Chinese New Year, Chinese visits their relatives and friends. This visits include visit to temples to pray for good fortune as well as wealth.

The 7th day of Chinese New Year is also considered as the birthday of human beings. The menu for the day are noodles and raw fish. Noodles are eaten to promote longevity and raw fish for success.

On the 8th day of Chinese New Year, the Fujian people had family reunion dinner. At midnight they pray to Tian Gong, also known as the God of Heaven.

The 9th day of Chinese New Year is reserved for making offerings to the Jade Emperor.

From the 10th to the 12th day of Chinese New Year, friends and relatives are invited for dinner.

After eating rich foods for the past 12 days, on the 13th day of Chinese New Year, it is recommended to eat simple rice congee and mustard greens (choi sum) to cleanse the digestive system.

The 14th day of Chinese New Year is reserved for preparations in conjunction with the celebration of the Lantern Festivals which takes place on the 15th night of Chinese New Year.

CHINESE New Year is celebrated as a time of REUNION and THANKSGIVING. This celebration is usually highlighted with a religious ceremony giving honour to heaven and earth, the gods of the household and family ancestors.

Chinese New Year start with the new moon on the first day of the Chinese New Year and ends on full moon 15 days later. The end of Chinese New Year which is on the 15th day is celebrated at night with lantern display and children carrying lanterns in a parade.

To determined the exact date for the Chinese New Year celebration to start are based on a combination of lunar and solar movement. The lunar cycle is 29.5 days. The Chinese insert an extra month once every few years (seven years of the 19-year cycle) in order to “catch up” with the solar calendar. It’s like adding an extra day on leap years. That’s why Chinese New Year usually falls on different date each year.

Going back to Chinese New Year celebration, giving honour, especially to their ancestors is the most vital of all the rituals. Giving honour to ancestors unite the living and those who passed away. Departed relatives are remembered with great respect because they were responsible for laying the foundations for the fortune and glory of the family.

On Chinese New Year eve, the presence of ancestors is acknowledged with dinner arranged for them at the family banquet table.

The Chinese celebrate Chinese New Year with the spirits of their ancestors as one big community.

A communal feast called “WEILU” or “surrounding the stove”, symbolizes family unity and honours the past and present generations.

DURING Chinese New Year, a large amount of TRADITIONAL FOOD is prepared for all the family to feast on including those ancestors who is no longer with them.

On Chinese New Year Day, a typical Chinese family will eat a VEGETARIAN DISH called ‘jai’. This vegetarian dish are made up of root vegetables or fibrous vegetables with many people attributes various superstitious elements to them. Here are examples:
Lotus seed - signify having many male offspring
Ginkgo nut - represents silver ingots
Black moss seaweed - associated with wealth
Dried bean curd - associated with the fulfillment of wealth and
bamboo shoots - this term sounds like ‘wishing that everything
would be well’
NO fresh bean curd - or tofu because it is white and unlucky for Chinese New Year since the colour white signifies death or misfortune

On Chinese New Year, other forms of foods are not forgotten. Whole fish is associated with togetherness and abundance. Chicken in the other hand represent prosperity. The chicken must be complete (whole), i.e. with head, tail and feet to symbolize completeness. Noodles are eaten uncut as the represent long life.

In the north of China, steamed wheat bread called man tou and small meat dumplings are the preferred food whereas in the south of China, their favourite and most typical food are nian gao (sweet steamed glutinous rice pudding) and zong zi (glutinous rice wrapped up in reed leaves).

The abundance of food throughout Chinese New Year celebration symbolizes abundance and wealth for the household.

CHINESE New Year is known for its COLOURFUL and stunning decorations. Families decorate their home with vases of pretty blossoms, platters of oranges and tangerines and a candy tray with eight varieties of dried sweet fruits. On the walls and doors are poetic couplets and happy wishes written on red papers with joyous and happy message.

On Chinese New Year, traditional Chinese household have live blooming plants. This symbolize rebirth and new growth. Flowers are said to symbolize wealth and high positions in one’s career.

In a more elaborate settings, plum blossoms that are just starting to bloom are arranged with bamboo and pine sprigs. This symbolize friends and friendship. Other flowers used during Chinese New Year includes pussy willow, azalea, peony and water lily or narcissus. The Chinese believe that without flowers there would be no fruits for flowers are the emblems of reawakening of nature.

There are many DO’s and DON’T’s during Chinese New Year. For instance, sweeping or dusting during Chinese New Year is not allowed for fear that good fortune will be swept away. Accordingly, after Chinese New Year Day, the floors can be swept provided that the dust and dirt are swept to the middle of the parlor and thereafter placed in the corners and not taken out until the 5th day. The rubbish placed in the corners are not to be trampled on. All rubbish must be taken out the back door.

It is believe that if the dirt and rubbish are swept out over the threshold, one of the family member will be swept away. To sweep the rubbish out of the front entrance is akin to sweeping away the good fortune of the family. The rubbish, dirt and dust must always be swept inwards and then carried out through the back door. This will ensure that no harm follows.

EXPLODING firecrackers on Chinese New Year is the Chinese way of sending out the old and welcoming the New Year. On the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, every door in the house including windows have to be left open to allow the old year to go out.

By Chinese New Year all DEBTS are supposed to be settled. Otherwise the unlucky man will be surrounded with debt for the whole year. Also, nothing should be lent on this day, because by doing so, he or she will be lending throughout the year.

Nobody should utter FOUL LANGUAGE, bad or unlucky words. For example the word ‘four’ (Ssu) which sounds like the word for death are not to be uttered. Death, dying, ghost stories and references to the past year should be avoided as everything should be focus on the new year and an new beginning.

CHILDREN are given a grace period during Chinese New Year where they can be mischievous and get away with it because if they are spanked and cry, Chinese believe that they will cry throughout the year.

Nobody should wash their HAIR during Chinese New Year because it would mean that they’re washing their luck away for the year.

RED clothing or anything in red is preferred during this festive season. Red is considered a bright, happy colour. It is believed that appearance and attitude during Chinese New Year sets the tone for the rest of the year.

Children and unmarried friends are given lai see (ANG POW), little envelope (of course the colour is red!!!), with crisp dollar bills for good fortune.

For the serious PRACTITIONER of Chinese New Year, when they do visitation, they usually consult the ALMANAC to find the most suitable time to leave home and the best direction to follow.

The first person one meet and the first word heard are significant as to what to be expected for the entire year. GOOD LUCK sides you if you see or hear songbirds or red-coloured birds or swallows.

It’s BAD LUCK to greet anyone in their bedroom, so even the unwell should get dressed and sit in the living room.

No KNIVES or SCISSORS are to be used during Chinese New Year as this is akin to cutting one’s fortune.

NOWADAYS, though many Chinese don’t believe in superstition anymore, these traditions and customs are still practiced. These traditions and customs are kept alive today because most families realizes that it is these very traditions that provides continuity from the past and also provide the family with identity, whether they believe in it or not.


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