Chinese New Year is coming so I wanted to know a little more about Chinese New Year Traditions. You see, I’m fascinated by this ancient culture that has spread to every corner of our planet. Chinese New Year celebrations take place, not only in China and New York, but in every single spot where there is a Chinese community established. This way, we can all enjoy this wonderful celebration, being present during the colorful Chinese new year parade and taste delicious Chinese new year food, such as dumplings, rolls and other treats.
Perhaps you are wondering, when is Chinese new year? This year 2011, the celebration falls on February 3rd. But it doesn’t take place the same day every year, because the Chinese calendar combines the solar and the lunar calendars. The Chinese calendar was invented in the year 2637 B.C., by Emperor Huangdi. In order to determine the Chinese new years date, some astronomical calculations have to be made. In China, they call this celebration the Spring Festival, because it symbolizes the end of the fall harvest and the beginning of the spring, the planting season.
What is Chinese new year history? Everything begun with a famous legend. The cruel beast Nien, as the Chinese folks believe, likes to eat people every New Year’s Eve. Every displayed paper cut, torch or firecracker in New Year is supposed to scare the beast away. Nien fears the color red, the loud noises and the fire. In the morning, people celebrate being successful over Nien for another year.
People begin preparing the Chinese new year celebrations a month from its date (similar to what us westerns do with Christmas). People buy each other presents, clean up their houses and get rid of bad luck this way. Doors and windowpanes are usually painted red, and get decorated with paper cuts. The night before there is a huge family dinner of dumplings and seafood, such as dried oysters, raw fish salad and edible seaweed. Each of these foods has a specific meaning, usually a message of peace and happiness for the beloved ones.
On Chinese new year day, it takes place a nice tradition called Hong Bao: married couples give money in red envelopes to children and single adults. Families say greetings to their relatives and neighbors. Every city that has a China town is the scenery to the famous Chinese new year parade, its colorful costumes and the lucky dragon. The end of the celebration is the occasion for the beautiful Festival of Lanterns.
Food plays a major role in Chinese new year traditions. The whole celebration lasts two weeks, and during this time, Chinese families serve lucky food, such as a whole chicken (which symbolizes the whole family being together). Citric fruits, such as tangerines, grapefruits and oranges are eaten a lot during Chinese New Year because the words for these fruits sound like luck, “to have” and wealth, respectively. As for delicious spring rolls, they also symbolize wealth, but this time because of their resemblance to gold bars.
As you can see, Chinese New Year is full of symbols, colorful traditions and a message of peace and good luck for the year to come. Chinese New Year traditions reflect the richness of this ancient culture that has lasted for thousands of years.