The Chinese New Year Traditions
To celebrate the Chinese New Year, a festival of change, the Chinese follow many traditions that are known to bring good luck for the rest of the year. Lets find out about these traditions.
Culture of China
According to a Chinese proverb, all creations are reborn on the New Year’s day. People believe that on the New Year day, the old is out and the new is in! The events that occur during New Year’s Day may impact the life of the individual for the rest of the year. Therefore, one must be careful in his or her actions on this day. Traditional rituals can help you do so. Following are some of the traditional rituals Chinese follow every year to attract good luck.
1. Clean Homes
In general, people clean their homes on the new year’s day with the belief that this will help them get rid of bad luck. Some people also clean their homes to get the house ready to accept good luck in the coming year.
2. Red Envelopes
Elders and married couples give cash-filled red envelopes to the children and the unmarried individuals. The cash is always given in clean and crisp bills. The amount of money given is always in even numbers, as even numbers are known to be more auspicious.
Families set off firecrackers in order to ward off evil spirits. These firecrackers are usually rolled up in red paper and are hung by a string. They are then lit on fire from the top.
4. Lion Dancers
During this day every year, many Chinatowns witness lion dancers perform. These dancers dress up in a lion costume and then perform ‘cai qing’. Cai qing literally means
‘plucking the greens’. As such, the lion dancers eat green cabbages while dancing. For this reason, many shop and restaurant owners hang a head of lettuce and a red envelope from the top of their doorways. When these lions travel from store to store, accompanied by drumming and firecrackers, they consume the greens. Then they spit out the green cabbages in front of the stores, while keeping the red envelopes. This is known to bring good fortune and blessings on the business.
The elders in the family place oranges on the beds of the family members to bring good fortune and long life to the household.
6. Fu and Flowers
The Chinese adorn the doors and windows of their homes with posters and signs having the word ‘fu’ engraved on them. This is considered to be a way to drive in good luck. Flowers, such as water lily, peach bosom and plum bosom, are also used in some homes to decorate the walls. Flowers indicate the coming of spring.
7. Gifts and Presents
Like all the celebrations around the world, this festival too comprises of presenting gifts to the near and dear ones. These gifts are a symbol of good luck. The gifts are packed in red covers and then handed over to the family members. The recipients of these gifts accept them and then bow three times to show their respect.
Paper lanterns are crafted to adorn the houses. These lanterns are also meant to enjoy the Lantern Festival which follows after the New Year celebrations, comprising of about a month. Families hang these paper lantern crafts on poles and walls and then light them.
9. Food and Feasting
Families cook special dishes and then have a grand feast with their relatives. Some of the dishes usually prepared at this time include long noodles, meat dumplings, fish, chicken, sweets, sticky rice cakes, and glutinous rice balls which are served with sugar soup and brown sugar.
10. Tray of Togetherness
This is a special highlight of the Chinese New Year celebrations. It is a tray which is circular or octagonal in shape. It is filled with an assortment of foods such as coconut, sugared fruits, water chestnut, winter melon, lotus seeds, tangerines, and carrots. The purpose of preparing this tray is to wish for a sweet year ahead.
11. Red Clothes
People wear new red clothes in order to get rid of evil spirits. Black is strictly avoided as black color is considered as a sign of death.
Special prayers are offered on the 2nd day of the year. This is believed to bring good fortune and prosperity, especially to existing and new businesses and ventures.
Did You Know?
This year, the Chinese New Year was marked on 23 January 2012, Monday. As it opened up the Year of the Dragon, the traditions included dragon decorations to adorn the houses and the streets.