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Chinese New Year

Chinese Lunar Year

January 28, 2017
Guo Nian ~ Xin Nian Hao ~ Traditional Celebrations ~ Lantern FestivalTreats ~ Auspicious FoodsZodiac ~ Kitchen God

Chinese New Year, known in Chinese as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year, is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. Many factories in China will shut down for 15 days as much of the country's work force goes on an extended holiday.

Lunar New Year is the politically correct name for this holiday, as many Asian cultures other than China's observe the lunar calendar. In Korea, for instance the holiday is known as Sut dal kum mum.

In addition to m
ainland China and Hong Kong, Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, such as Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and also in Chinatowns throughout the world.

Celebrated at the second new moon after the winter solstice, this holiday can occur anywhere between January 21 and February 20 on the Gregorian calendar.

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

2017 is the Year of the Rooster. It begins January 28.

Guo Nian

According to Chinese legend, a man-eating monster called "Nian" would come down from the mountains in the spring to attack the townspeople. In order to scare the monster away, residents would decorate in red, light firecrackers, bang drums, and perform dances.

Some believe that this is the origin of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

Thus, another name for the Chinese New Year is "Guo Nian," meaning "the passing of the beast."

Fortune Couplet
Fortune Couplet

Xin Nian Hao

Today, Nian refers to the New Year's day or the Spring Festival. Nian also means "year. "

The "Happy New Year!" greeting in Chinese is "Xin Nian Hao."

Traditional Celebrations

To celebrate  the Chinese New Year, many people clean their houses to remove bad luck and get a fresh start on the new year. Red decorations and banners are hung to wish people good fortune and health.

It is customary to set off firecrackers, which help scare away Nian – a legendary beast that preys on people the night before the beginning of the New Year.

In the Americas, Chinese New Year festivities often feature traditional Chinese food, dances, operatic singing, instrumental performances, Tae Kwon Do exercises and paper folding lessons, as well as calligraphy and painting demonstrations.

Lantern Festival
Held on the night of the first full moon of the lunar New Year, the Lantern Festival ends the 15-day annual celebration of Chinese New Year.

Lanterns are the main attraction. Many are made to reflect historical Chinese themes, depicting scenes from stories and legends that express traditional values.

They are also made to represent the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac and heroic figures. Some  lanterns are decorated with riddles that people are challenged to solve at parties.

Holiday Treats

Chinese New Year's treats include candy, seeds, fresh fruit and dried and candied fruits. Fresh fruits include oranges, tangerines, clementines and kumquats, all symbols of abundant happiness.

Tangerines with their leaves intact are believed to bring security in relationships with family and friends.

"Lucky Money" envelopes are usually given to children for New Year's.

Auspicious Foods

In the Chinese tradition, many foods carry auspicious portent:

Beef: wealth and strength
Chicken: prosperity and joy.
Dumpling: togetherness and heavenly blessings.
Fish: surplus and prosperity
Noodles: a long, happy life
Pork: wealth and strength.
Rice Cake: safety and good fortune.
Shrimp: happiness and good fortune.
Tofu: harmony and prosperity.  

Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese calendar is "lunisolar" - a combination of the lunar and solar. Developed in the third millennium B.C., it is the oldest surviving calendar system in the world.

The first cycle of the zodiac was introduced in 2637 B.C.

Legend has it that Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came, and Buddha named a year after each one, announcing that people born in each animal's year would have some of that animal's personality.

Each year of the Chinese Zodiac is thereby represented by a different animal: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. 2012 is the year of the dragon.

People born in dragon years are said to be innovative, brave, and passionate. Salvador Dali, John Lennon, and Mary-Louise Parker were all born in the year of the dragon.

Kitchen God

Many Chinese pay tribute to the "Kitchen God" at the end of a lunar year. The Kitchen God's informs chief spirits like the Jade Emperor on the behavior of a household over the past year. Members of the household burns a paper image of the Kitchen God, so that he will ascend to the Jade Emperor in the heavens and give them a good report. A paper horse is sometimes included to lift him on his journey, while the Vietnamese prefer a carp fish. The lips of the Kitchen God are sometimes coated with honey or sweet rice to make he says sweet things. See Chinese Mythological Gods.

Year of the Rooster silver coin
Year of the Rooster silver coin

Year of the Rooster pendant
Year of the Rooster pendant

Year of the Rooster
Year of the Rooster

Paper Dragon Decorations
Paper Dragon Decorations

Lucky Money Envelopes

dried fruit
dried fruit

Paper Lanterns
Paper Lanterns

Lucky Bamboo
Lucky Bamboo

Chinese Kitchen God Zao Jun
Chinese Kitchen God Zao Jun

Cascade Wreath

Evergreen Ornament
Christmas Ornaments

Personalized Christmas Stockings
Personalized Christmas Stockings

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