The Chinese New Year, i.e. Lunar New Year, does not begin on the first of January. Each year the Chinese New Year falls sometime in January or February, on a date which corresponds with the second New Moon after the Winter equinox. So, it varies from year to year. The Chinese New Year ends on the full moon fifteen days later.
Celebrating the start of each lunar New Year is not a one-day affair for the Chinese. Festivities and rituals that ensure the rest of the year stays auspicious and harmonious involve doing things properly for the whole fifteen days. It is beneficial and fun to be traditional no matter how modern we are. Tradition has a wonderful way of making us feel grounded. It defines our being and our culture. On New Year’s day itself, it is beneficial to celebrate, to be happy, to have smiling faces, and to refrain from scowling, quarreling, or criticizing anyone.
The Gregorian calendar commonly used today tracks the movement of the sun. This calendar is different from the Chinese calendar. The Chinese astrological calendar is based on the movements of the Moon, and the Chinese Lunar cycle is on a 12-year repeating cycle which is represented by 12 animal symbols (The Rat, The Ox, The Tiger, The Rabbit, The Dragon, The Snake, The Horse, The Sheep, The Monkey, The Rooster, The Dog and The Pig), the five elements (Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth), and the Yin-Yang theory.
The total cycle takes sixty years (created by multiplying the 12 animals and five elements) to complete, and to return to a year with the same animal sign and the same element. The cycle of 60 years counting system begins with wood Rat and ends with metal Pig. Please visit Chinese Zodiac for more information. It is always considered lucky to invite in the animal sign of the year into the home, as it is believed this effectively captures the Chi (or energy) of the year for you.
As the clock strikes midnight on the eve of the Chinese New Year, firecracker sounds pound heavily, and fireworks paint the night sky in red, yellow, orange, blue and green. People crowd the streets and exchange greetings with one another. For the next fiften days, Chinese people all over the world reunite with their families, carry out rituals to show respect for their ancestors and mythical gods, or simply have a good time.
The Origin of Chinese New Year
According to the most popular Chinese myth, the origin of Chinese New Year celebrations was to scare away a man-eating monster called Nian. Nian lived in a high mountain. It came down from its hideout once a year and attacked villagers promptly at midnight on the eve of a new year. Villagers were terrified and didn’t know what to do. Finanally, a villager discovered that Nian was afraid of red color, fire, and noises. He advised his fellow villagers to wear red, set fires, and make lots of noise to frighten away Nian. As doubtful as his fellow villagers were, they decided to follow his advice. Well, they had nothing to lose, really.
When the time moved slowly past midnight, a new year arrived and, as expected, Nian roared and charged toward the village at full force. Suddenly, the dark landscape lit up – villagers came out of their homes wearing red outfits, carrying torches, and setting off firecrackers or banging on any object with which they could make noise. Nianwas startled, and it fled as fast as its feet could carry it. From that point on, Chinese people always celebrate their New Year by wearing red, decorating their houses in red, and lighting firecrackes so Nian doesn’t come back again. In fact, the Chinese term “Guo Nian” means not only to welcome the passing of an old year, but also to rejoice their survival from Nian’s annual attack.
Preparation for the Chinese New Year (1)
The New Year brings many new aspirations, hopes and wishes for newness in life. Understanding the energy fields surrounding us can make an immense differences to our lives, especially if we hope to have a new start in the coming year. Any imbalance between the flows of energy creates a negative resultant energy, which contributes to environmental aggression and disharmony among residents.
For example, as time goes by, we may accumulate many unwanted things in the house that cause blockages of energy movements This then has the capacity to distort the energy fields, activating a negative cycle of energy. Hence it is necessary to clean it from time to time, and the New Year is a time when complete cleansing the house is not only a good idea, but is vital to ensure a good flow of energy within the house in the New Year ahead.
In many Asian countries, it is common practice to de-clutter during the New Year. This is to remove energy blockages and to allow for the free flow of fresh energy. The following are some recommendations that can help remove energy blockages and ensure a smooth flow of positive, fresh energy.
— De-clutter your home. Give away things you no longer needed. This is important as clutter can deplete the energy fields around you and the immediate environment.
— Plan complete cleaning and cleansing of your premises. Look for areas that have been neglected and re-arrange the furtniture layout if health has been of concern.
— Clean up your prayer area and altar, and redecorate the space to bring in joy and peace.
— Hang some colorful decorations, bring in a new plant, and display auspicious symbols. Decorate the main entrance of your home and workplace.
— New Year is a time to reflect on the past and to plan for the future. To begin this, sit down in a quiet corner and mentally relieve all the negative experiences that are depleting your energies. Then clear out those negative feelings and accept the transition of these events in your life.
By creating the right balance in energy fields surrounding us, we can not only ensure that our homes are synergized with nature but also that our personal aura is strong enough to take us through the year ahead. Wishing you all good health, wealth, happiness, love and peace for the New Year.
Preparation for the Chinese New Year (2)
The Chinese New Year, also called Spring Festival, is the most important festival in the Chinese calendar and it is believed that the initial fifteen days of the New Year are the Year’s most important days. These days signify the first waxing cycle of the Moon, so they set the direction for the way the year will go.
Preparation for the New Year must begin in earnest. New clothes and new shoes are purchased, and new auspicious decorative items are put into place. Preparation always starts with the cleansing of old energy and this means cleaning cupboards, closets, donating the unwanted items and getting rid of stale energy. All the rooms of the house are given a good scrub. Furniture is moved out to sweep away dust and grime built up in the past year.
A big part of New Year preparations is stocking up on sweet foods and auspicious delicacies, and making (or purchasing) the all important “Lian Gao” or sweet sticky cake. The “Lian Gao” is believed to bring happiness and to ensure a high position for the family patriarch. Another item to stock up on are mandarin oranges, which literally means “gold”. One important ritual of the New Year is to have dancing lions roll crates of oranges into the home or office on the first day of the New Year.
Business people should make certain they settle all outstanding debts by New Year’s Eve. To carry these debts over into the New Year is most unlucky as it portends going deeper into debt in the coming year. Before the closing of books on New Year’s Eve, it is considered auspicious to give red envleopes of money to the staff. This ensures happy, smiling faces as the business shuts down to celebrate the New Year.
The last day of the old year is the time to pay respects to one’s ancestors. In homes where there are ancestral altars, this is a time when ancestors are invited to join in the reunion celebrations with all members of the family, many of whom would have journeyed back to the ancestral home to eat an auspicious meal together.
Traditionally, all the sons of the family return to their parents’ home and it is said to be unlucky to eat out on the night of the reunion dinner. All the foods served must have auspicous meanings. At the dinner, all family members should be properly dressed. The women of the family should wear their jewellery as well as their fine clothes in red, as this signifies a continuity of good fortune. Every family member should never sit to eat wearing old clothes looking tired or worn out. They should not look unhappy. Smiling faces bring good luck. The reunion dinner takes place around midnight. Every child must greet their parents with auspicious greetings. The main door and if possible all other doors should be opened. The whole house should be lit signifying a burst of Yang energy.
The wealth boy and girl wish you a healthy, happy New Year full of abundance of good fortune. The beautiful Chinese character “Fu” means good fortune and happiness.
The wealth God wishes you a successful and prosperous New Year full of abundance of joy and happiness.
Snoopy wishes everything goes smoothly and perfectly for you.
(Spring Liao, 01/08/2007)