While people in western cultures have learned to accept the new year without much fanfare, people in eastern cultures, particularly China and Japan, don’t start celebrating life until sometime around springtime. Yes, the Chinese also celebrate a new year, but it is observed one month later, in the month of February, which is considered to be the beginning of spring.
The solar new year, also known as Li Chun, occurs on February 4 of each year and is traditionally celebrated in China. The new Chinese year starts at a different time each year, in contrast to the new year, which begins precisely at midnight local time elsewhere in the world. At 19:00 on the 7th of February, this year, the year of the rat officially started! The ‘Tong-shu,’ which is the Chinese almanack, has a notation of the time when the traveller arrived. The tong shu takes into account the moon cycle in addition to the solar one. Therefore, the new year begins on the day that the new moon occurs in the new year and continues until the day that the full moon occurs, lasting a total of 14 days!
How is New Year celebrated?
On the eve of the new year, firecrackers are lighted to frighten away the demons, and as a result, the previous, worn-out year is extinguished.
Before the start of the New Year, Chinese families would thoroughly clean their houses in preparation for the holiday. Any activity that involves sweeping, mopping, or the like causes one to lose wealth. Because the gods will shower humanity with good fortune throughout the new year, it is important that residences be thoroughly cleaned before guests arrive to provide a warm welcome. The Chinese do not clean their homes or wash their hair until after the new year has passed.
The New Year is similar to other traditional festivals that are observed in many different parts of the world. New Year’s is traditionally observed as a family holiday in China, much like Christmas, which is also a time when extended family and friends get together to celebrate. However, before any of the feasting and drinking can begin, homage must be paid to the spirits of those who have passed on. Even when they are still very much active in life, Chinese people search for a location that would be appropriate for their own burial. When it comes to yin house Feng Shui, which is concerned with locating a suitable location for the burial of the dead, people make it a point to ensure that their ancestors are buried in a suitable location after they pass away, as doing so is believed to bring enormous amounts of good fortune to descendants. As a result, a significant number of traditionally Chinese people consult with experts of Feng Shui in order to choose an appropriate location for themselves even before they pass away. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that even the festivities of the Chinese new year begin with paying tribute to ancestors who have passed away. Respect and deference are shown to elderly people who are still among the living.
This gathering of young and elderly, as well as honouring the spirits of the deceased during the eating, commemorates the wei lu, also known as the community feast, and symbolises the togetherness that exists between members of the family.
No one should be seen sobbing on this day because it is said that if you cry on this day, you will have to cry every day for the rest of the year!
The 15 day long celebrations
People all around the world celebrate the New Year in the spring, and to celebrate, they adorn their houses with the blooms of spring flowers such as peonies and plum blossoms, which stand for wealth and fertility. Everyone makes it a point to check if at least one flower in their yard is blooming on the new year.
On the altar, in addition to the flowers, there are lemons, oranges, and pomegranates arranged there. The hues orange, yellow, and red are associated with vigour and life. People like to wear shades of red, yellow, and green but steer clear of white and black clothing.
People don’t consume any meat on the first day of the fast. On the second day, the birthday of dogs is honoured, and pet and stray dogs alike are given food in recognition of the canine’s unwavering devotion. Because the lady a man has married was nurtured by committed parents who created devoted, humane, kind, and chaste daughters, on the third or fourth day, men pay their respects to their in-laws. This is done because a man recognises that the woman he has married was groomed by devoted parents. The eastern philosophical tradition views women as a kind of wealth, and it sees women as the heralds of a prosperous future.
On the fifth day, also known as Po Wu, people do not often go out of their houses since it is thought that the God of Wealth would visit them at their residences on this day. On the other hand, the sixth day is a time to pay a visit to the temple, as well as to friends and family.
A holiday honouring farmers is held on the seventh day of the festival. Keep in mind that the Chinese new year takes place in the spring! The Chinese have split the year into five primary seasons. Due to the fact that the new year occurs in the spring, it is also a time of celebration for farmers, who take delight in the new foliage that springs up and the greenery that surrounds them. Cooked and consumed are noodle dishes, which are symbolic of fertility and wealth.
Prayers are offered to Tian Gong, also known as the gods of the skies, on the eighth day of the Chinese new year. On the ninth day, several kinds of food are presented as gifts to the Jade Emperor. The remaining days of the holiday are spent celebrating by just eating, drinking, and inviting their loved ones to parties, as well as attending parties themselves. People eat very basic meals on the thirteenth day to let their digestive systems recover after the previous night’s binge drinking and partying.
The lantern festival
The world-famous lantern festival, which draws visitors from all around, takes place on the 14th and 15th day of the event. If you haven’t noticed already, the new year starts on a day with a new moon and concludes on a day with a full moon. As a result, on the 15th day, when the moon emerges appealing as a ball of white light on an ink blue sky, people build magnificent lanterns to mimic the moon, and the whole area is filled with light!
The Beijing neighbourhood of Dingshikou is home to a wide variety of lanterns, many of which are for sale, and gorgeous lanterns can be seen illuminating the whole neighbourhood. Because “ding” in Chinese means “lantern” or “soft light” and “shi” means “market” or “shop,” the location was given this name. Because of this, his name is Dingshikou.
According to urban legend, the Jade emperor in heaven was enraged when he discovered that his goose had died somewhere on earth. He intended to light the town on fire, but a fairy warned the people of earth and suggested that they should light millions of lanterns on that night instead of letting the town burn. The Jade Emperor’s wrath was appeased when he looked down and saw a number of lanterns flying through the air like a blazing inferno on the ground below.
Entry of the Buddha
The festival of lanterns is also said to have originated from a dream of the Buddha that a monarch had, which inspired the king to construct a temple in China dedicated to the Buddha.
Both Yuan Yuan Xiao and Tang Yuan are delectable desserts that are composed of rice balls and are eaten. Rice balls in the shape of a circle represent the changing of the seasons, good luck, and harmony.
A crimson envelope known as “Lai See” that holds money handed down from elders is traditionally presented to younger people as a gift. People will congratulate one another with the phrase “Kung Hey Fat Choy” or “Happy New Year!”