The Chinese New Year celebration is a big part of Chinese tradition and culture. It is a holiday that many people know of in America. However, they do not know how it is celebrated, or the common do’s and don’ts of the holiday.
Not much is known about the origin of the Chinese New Year. However, we do know that it started based on the Chinese Lunar Calendar, and was created during the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046bc). The lunar calendar is a way of counting time that uses the lunar phases, solar solstices, and equinoxes. Chinese New Year occurs on the first new moon of the year, this year being February 12th.
The holiday lasts seven days, from New Year’s Eve to the 6th day of the first lunar month. During New Year’s Eve, the family gathers for a feast. In the north, they eat dumplings, and in the south, they eat glutinous rice cakes. The family stays up until 12:00 am when they then set off fireworks or firecrackers. On the first day of the new year, you dress up for a festival and visit friends and family. The adults give children red envelopes filled with money as well. Some other ways to celebrate is dragon dances, pasting spring couplets, worshiping the stove god, cleaning the house, reunion dinners, and watching the spring festival gala on TV.
During the new year’s celebration, there are some things that you should not do. These things are thought to bring bad luck and misfortune to the new year. One New Year’s don’t is to not cut your hair. Based on a legend, if you cut your hair on new year’s, your uncle could die. Another new year don’t is do not break anything on new years. If something breaks during the New Year’s celebration, it is a sign of welcoming the new year on a bad note, thus fore it is unlucky. Finally, another example of a new year don’t is to not buy books during the new year celebration. The Chinese word for “book” and “to lose” sounds similar, so buying a book at the celebration could bring misfortune for the new year.
In addition, there are things that welcome good luck into the new year as well. One of these new year’s do’s is to eat lots of fish during the celebration. The Chinese word for “fish” and “abundance” sound the same, so the more fish you eat, the more abundant your new year will be. Another new year do is to welcome the god of wealth on the 5th day of the new year. The 5th day is the god of wealth’s birthday, so welcoming him into the world will make your new year’s career prosperous. And the final example of a New Year’s do is to wear new clothes during the celebration. New clothing is a representation of starting a new image of yourself, giving you the feeling of a fresh new start for the year.
In summary, the Chinese New Year celebration has many traditions and routines that many people do not realize are present. In Chinese culture, the family is the center of everything. So the New Year’s holiday is really a time to spend with your family and say your goodbyes to the past year, welcoming the new year with open arms and a positive outlook.