Friday, February 1, 2013

Countdown to Chinese New Year-Day 10--the history

Lina<3, it is February 1, 2013 and your second Chinese New Year is coming up in 10 days. I am sure that you are wondering what the big deal is besides the hong bao (Mandarin for red envelope), and lai see (Cantonese for red envelope). It is one of the major holidays for Chinese people.

Mommy will be doing a 10 days countdown with you so you can learn more about Chinese New Year (the politically correct term is Lunar New Year, as not only Chinese people celebrate this holiday-Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Tibetan, Vietnamese.)

So here's a Chinese New Year history lesson for you:

Chinese New Year starts with the New Moon on the first day of the new year and ends on the full moon 15 days later. The 15th day of the new year is called the Lantern Festival which is celebrated at night with lantern displays and children carrying lanterns in a parade.

The Chinese calendar is based on a combination of lunar and solar movements. The lunar cycle is about 29.5 days. In order to "catch up" with the solar calendar the Chinese insert an extra month once every few years (seven years out of a 19 year cycle). This is the same as adding an extra day on leap year. This is why, according to the solar calendar, the Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year.


The first day of the Lunar New Year is "the welcoming of the gods of the heavens and earth". Many people abstain from meat on the first day of the new year because it is believed that this will ensure long and happy lives for them.

On the second day, the Chinese pray to their ancestors as well as to all the gods. They are extra kind to dogs and feed them well as it is believed that the second day is the birthday of all dogs.

The third and fourth days are for the sons-in-laws to pay respect to their parents-in-law.

The fifth day is called Po Woo. On that day people stay home to welcome the God of Wealth. No one visits families and friends on the 5th day because it will bring both parties bad luck.

On the sixth to the 10th day, the Chinese visit their relatives and friends freely. They also visit the temples to pray for good fortune and health.

The seventh day of the New Year is the day for farmers to display their produce. These farmers make a drink from 7 types of vegetables to celebrate the occasion. The 7th day is also considered the birthday of human beings. Noodles are eaten to promote longevity, and raw fish for success.

On the eighth day the Fijian people have another family reunion dinner, and at midnight they pray to Tina Gong, the God of Heaven.

The ninth day is to make offerings to the Jade Emperor.

The tenth through the twelfth are days that friends and relatives should be invited for dinner. After so much rich food, the thirteenth day should have a change in diet with a simple bland congee and mustard greens to cleanse the system.

The fourteenth day should be for preparations to celebrate the Lantern Festival which is to be held on the fifteenth night.

Lion Dance

The Chinese Lion Dance, as we know it today, has a continuous history of some one thousand years. The first record of the performance of an early and more primitive form of the Lion Dance dates back to the early Ch'in and Han Dynasties (3rd century B.C.)

The lion dance is very important to the Asian people. It gives meaning to life. In the consecration of temples, new buildings and other construction, events and businesses, planting and harvesting, celebration of official acknowledgment and public recognition festivals, religious rites - for all these and more, the Lion Dance plays an essential role


Chinese New Year is a Time of Family Reunions

New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are celebrated as a family affair, a time of reunion and thanksgiving. The celebration was traditionally highlighted with a religious ceremony given in honor of Heaven and Earth, the gods of the household, and the family ancestors.

The sacrifice to the ancestors, the most vital of all the rituals, united the living members with those who had passed away. Departed relatives were remembered with great respect in the past as they still are today because they were responsible for laying the foundations for the fortune and glory of the family.

The presence of the ancestors is acknowledged on the eve of the New Year with a dinner setting arranged for them at the family banquet table. The spirits of the ancestors, together with the living, celebrate the onset of the New Year as one great community. The communal feast called "surrounding the stove" (weilu) symbolizes the unity of the family and honors the past and present generations of the lineage.

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