Sunday, February 14, 2010

Chinese New Year(农历新年)

Today is the Chinese New Year, the 1st day of the lunar calendar for the year of tiger.

Happy Chinese New Year(新年快乐);, Gong Xi Fatt Cai(恭喜发财)

Chinese New Year(农历新年) is know as Spring festival(春节)in mainland China. The celebration of the new year take 15 days. The first day is until the 15th day(Lantern festival)

To prepare for the New Year, the Chinese clean their homes, repay money they owe, get their hair cut and buy new clothes, and offer prayers to their ancestors and to their gods. They decorate their homes with signs that wish peace and luck for the coming year. On the day itself, homes are lighted and families gather for a dinner with special dishes, stay up late, and set off firecrackers to scare away any evil spirits.But the routine may now change for a modern Chinese, depend on the country he is from. Firecrackers are banned in most of the country. But the spirit of the Chinese New Year is the same.

The new year of lunar calendar is not only celebrate by Chinese,all over the world; regardless of religion. It is also celebrate by Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese. They may called it in different name with their own languages.

First day- Chinese New Year Day

It is public holiday in Malaysia and Singapore, and mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong.

The first day is for the welcoming of the deities of the heavens and earth, officially beginning at midnight. Many people, especially Buddhists, abstain from meat consumption on the first day because it is believed that this will ensure longevity for them. Some consider lighting fires and using knives to be bad luck on New Year's Day, so all food to be consumed is cooked the day before. For Buddhists, the first day is also the birthday of Maitreya Bodhisattva (better known as the more familiar Budai Luohan), the Buddha-to-be. People also abstain from killing animals. Christian Chinese will go to church for the celebration and praying.

Most importantly, the first day of Chinese New Year is a time when families visit the oldest and most senior members of their extended family, usually their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents. The visitation is called Pai Nien(拜年).

This is the time when the elderly relatives, or married relatives will give red packets(红包)to the children or those unmarried young relatives. The red packets is red envelope which contain money. Red packets is call Hong Pau(红包)in Mandarin, 'ang pow' in Hokkien dialect, lai-see(利是, 利市 or 利事)in Cantonese. Red packets are also known as Ya Sui Qian(壓歲錢/压岁钱) , literally means the money used to suppress or put down the evil spirit, the animal called called Sui(歲 or 祟) or Nien(年). The act of requesting for red packets is normally called (Mandarin): 讨紅包, 要利是. (Cantonese):逗利是

Red packets almost always contain money, usually varying from a couple of dollars to several hundred. Per custom, the amount of money in the red packets should be of even numbers, as odd numbers are associated with cash given during funerals (帛金 : Bai Jin). The number 8 is considered lucky (for its homophone for "wealth"), and $8 is commonly found in the red envelopes in the US. The number six is also very lucky due to the reason, in Chinese six[六,liu] can mean smooth, as in having a smooth year. But it is accepted to have single bank notes e.g. 10 or 50 dollars even it is odd number. But in modern time, people are not so particular on the odd or even denomination.

Some families may invite a lion dance troupe as a symbolic ritual to usher in the Lunar New Year as well as to evict bad spirits from the premises. Members of the family who are married also give red packets containing cash to junior members of the family, mostly children and teenagers. Not only the married, Companies and Boss also give red packets to employee for good luck and wealth.

While fireworks and firecrackers are traditionally very popular, some regions have banned them due to concerns over fire hazards, which have resulted in increased number of fires around New Years and challenged municipal fire departments' work capacity. For this reason, various city governments (e.g., Hong Kong, and Beijing, for a number of years) issued bans over fireworks and firecrackers in certain premises of the city. As a substitute, large-scale fireworks have been launched by governments in cities like Hong Kong to offer citizens the experience. It is also banned in Malaysia and Singapore.

The events for 15 days festival are as follow:

1. 1st day(初一) - Chinese New Year. Early morning the Buddhist and Chinese tradition is to pray in the temple. It is also the time to visit(拜年) the oldest and most senior members of their extended family, usually their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents. After giving greeting to the elderly relatives, they will give red packets(壓歲錢/压岁钱)to the unmarried junior relatives and children.

2, 2nd day(初二)- It is the time for married daughters to visit their parents. It is also the time for continue visit friends.

3. 3rd day(初三)- Normally not visiting anybody on the third day. Traditinally, the day is called "chì kǒu" (“赤口”), meaning that it is easy to get into arguments. The day to avoid argument and conflict with other people, so it is not allow to go for visitation. The day is actually a day of rest after the heavy work by the family members for the new year preparation.

4. 4th day(初四) - continue visiting friends after a day's rest. The visitation can be from the 4th day until 15th days.

5. 7th day(初七)- The seventh day, traditionally known as renri (人日), the common man's birthday, the day when everyone grows one year older. It is the day when tossed raw fish salad, yusheng, is eaten. This is a custom primarily among the overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia, such as Malaysia and Singapore. People get together to toss the colourful salad and make wishes for continued wealth and prosperity.

6. 8th day(初八) - The celebration of eve of Jade Emperor on the 8th day. The Hokkien people will start praying at the mid night, with normally there will be roasted pig and cut sugar cane plants, and fire firecrackers.

7. 9th day(初九) - praying time for the Heavenly God or Jade Emperor(玉皇大帝聖誕), It is very important for Hokkien people.

8. 15th day(十五)- The fifteen day of the Chinese New Year celebration is the Lantern festival(元宵節). It is also known as Chinese Valentine Day. In this day the unmarried young girls and boys will go to the esplanade or beach to throw orange,wishing to get a good husband or wife soon. This day mark the end of the Chinese New Year festival.

In Malaysia, the Chinese ministers and political parties, Chinese associations, and clan houses will also celebrate by having open houses or dinners. It is also time for alumni of the school or college to have reunion dinner, as this is the time all the classmates are coming home for the festival.

Happy Chinese New Year(新年快乐);, Gong Xi Fatt Cai(恭喜发财)

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