Chinese New Year (known as Spring Festival in China) begins with the new moon on the first day of the new year and ends with the full moon 15 days later. That’s right, Chinese New Year is a 15 day holiday! The Chinese calendar is based on lunar as well as solar movements. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day is a family affair, a time of reunion and thanksgiving. The festival was traditionally highlighted by a religious ceremony honoring Heaven and Earth, household gods and family ancestors. This holiday stresses the importance of family ties. The Chinese New Year Eve dinner is among the most important family occasions of the entire year.
Spring Cleaning is the first step in preparing for Spring Festival. Every corner of the house is swept clean which symbolizes a new beginning, out with the old in with the clean. Spring couplets are step number 2. Written in black ink on vertical sheets red paper, these Spring Couplets are placed on the left and right sides of entryways and connected by a horizontal one above the door or gate (interesting it is done with RED and only ever RED paper, Passover?). These couplets are short poems wishing all who pass through the door or gate good fortune in the coming new year.
Red is the prevailing color during this holiday. The spring couplets are written on red paper. Red envelopes called Hong Bao filled with money are given to Children by aunts, uncles, fathers, mothers and grandparents. Traditional Chinese knots tied with red rope are given to friends and displayed in the home. New calendars are printed with red ink, greeting cards are drenched in red and people wear red shirts, sweaters, socks and under garments for good luck.
This year is the year of the Rabbit. In the Chinese cycle of dating the years there are 12 animals that represent each year in the 12 year cycle. The Chinese view time as cyclical as we here in the West view it as linear. The 12 animals are: dog, dragon, horse, monkey,pig, ox rabbit, rat, rooster, sheep, snake and tiger. People believe that if you are born in a certain year you will exhibit certain characteristics of these animals. For example, people born in the year of the rabbit are articulate, talented, ambitious, trustworthy and reserved. The Chinese will often plan to be married in certain years that are deemed better for marriage, they plan to have babies in certain years that are good for having children and they will not marry if their year/animal is known for not being compatible with the year/animal of a potential spouse. There is quite a bit of superstition that goes along with the “Chinese Zodiac”.
Lantern Festival is on the 15th day of Spring Festival. It is the first full moon of the new year. People all over China go outside and display all kinds of lanterns. Another important part of Lantern festival is the eating of Xiao Yuan. Xiao Yuan are small balls made of glutinous race flour. The balls are filled with many different kinds of fillings that range from sweet to salty and rose petals to walnuts.
Even though there is a lot of superstitions wrapped up in the Chinese New Year, God still makes Himself known to the people of China. How so you ask? On every door, gate and window, in every home, on every greeting card you will find the Chinese Character Fu? . This character is made up of four separate characters: God, one, man, garden. When these four are combined they created a new character with a new meaning, which is blessing. God with one man in the garden!
Happy Chinese New Year! And may God continue to have mercy and grace on us!
American serving the Lord in China
Contributor – Baptist.org
Featuring : The Year of the Rabbit, Happy Chinese New Year!