Friday, January 07, 2011

Chinese New Year

For a lot Chinese, Chinese New Year is the most celebrated occasion, even more than Christmas. Their new year is not like the new year that we often celebrate on the 1st day of January. The Chinese new year is the Lunar New Year, where the new year is based on the lunar phase of the lunisolar Chinese calendar. 

Usually, the new year falls on any day from January 21 to February 21 depending on when the first new moon of the lunar year comes. Each year is named for one of twelve animals in turn: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, or Pig. this year the Chinese New Year is celebrated on February 3.

The Chinese New Year festival traditionally begins on the first day of the first month in the Chinese calendar and ends with Lantern Festival which is on the 15th day. Filipino Chinese or Tsinoys in the Philippines celebrates the new year with some traditions:
  • Families make offerings to the gods, especially the Kitchen God, who is responsible for reporting everything that transpires throughout the year to the Emperor of all Gods. They offer the Kitchen God sweet foods so he will report sweet things. Tikoy, a sticky pudding, is not only a favorite treat on this occasion, it is a favorite offering to the Kitchen Gods since it is said to be capable of keeping the God's jaw glued shut, to prevent him from making an unfavorable report. After the food offerings are all made, an image of the Kitchen God is put on a paper chair and set on fire so he can "ride the flames" to heaven. He returns at the height of the New Year's Eve celebrations.
  • Red is the favorite color for Chinese New Year clothing and decorations, as it is said to bring good luck. Since it symbolizes fire, it is believed to ward away evil and to frighten away a legendary monster that terrorizes people on New Year’s Eve.
  • Families have reunions for New Year’s Eve dinner either in their homes or in restaurants.
  • Fireworks are set off at midnight since it is said that the noise and the fire frightens bad spirits away. This is rooted in an old custom of lighting bamboo stalks to scare bad spirits.
  • Doors and windows are opened at midnight to let out the evil of the old year and let in the luck and prosperity of the New Year.
  • There is a belief that the later children stay awake, the longer they and their parents will live, so children stay up past midnight to welcome the New Year.
  • After midnight, children receive ang pao -- red envelopes containing cash, with the words hi(happiness), sin (long life), and kiong hi huat tsai (congratulations and prosperity) printed on it.
  • On New Year’s Day people greet each other with kiong hi or kung hei fat choi (congratulations and be prosperous).
  • The most colorful New Year ritual is the dragon dance, or lion dance. An enormous dragon/lion head, with a long body of colorful fabric, performs a vibrant and energetic dance manipulated by skilled operators. In Manila, many lion dancers roam the streets of Binondo.
  • Residents who want the dragons/lions to cleanse their homes and bring good fortune hang an ang paoat the top of their gates. The lion dancers demonstrate their strength and skill as they climb to reach the red envelopes. After getting an envelope, the dragon/lion does a short victory dance, bows three times in thanks, and moves on to look for the next one.
  • Traditionally all debts should be settled before the beginning of the New Year. Since a new year is a chance for a new beginning, it is considered best to start it off with a clean slate.

In our family, though we are not Chinese, we usually spend the new year eating Tikoy, Hopia and other Eng Bee Tin goodies. 


2011 - Feb. 3 (Rabbit)
2012 - Jan. 23 (Dragon)
2013 - February 10 (Snake)
2014 - January 31 (Horse)
2015 - February 19 (Sheep)
2016 - February 8 (Monkey)
2017 - January 28 (Rooster)
2018 - February 16 (Dog)
2019 - February 5 (Pig)

love, now and always, 

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