by: Chloe Parton
The Chinese New Year is a 16 day long celebration that begins on February 12th this year. The Chinese New Year is celebrated to honor a household and heavenly deities and ancestors. It also brings families together for feasting. The traditional greeting is “Kung hei fat choi,” which translates to congratulations. This celebration is based on the ancient lunar calendar. It goes back to when the Shang Dynasty was in power, it functions as a religious, dynastic, and social guide.
The Chinese New Year has many traditions and activities like cleansing the house thoroughly to get rid of “huiqi” or unlucky breaths from the previous year. Cleansing the house also pleases the gods that come down from heaven to inspect the house. Another tradition is food sacrifices, food is sacrificed to the gods and ancestors. People have scrolls that contain lucky messages on the household gates and set off firecrackers to spook the evil spirits, and elders give out money to children. Some activities that occur are putting up decorations, eating a reunion dinner with family on New Year’s Eve, firecrackers and fireworks, giving red envelopes and gifts.
Another part of the Chinese New Year is gift giving, but one must follow the rules. Pay attention to the color of the gift or bag it’s in. Avoid white (it’s associated with funerals) as well as black and blue. The best gifts are red, yellow, and gold they symbolize wealth and prosperity. If giving money packets don’t buy white ones, they’re used when giving money at funerals. Never give a gift with a monetary amount that includes four, the pronunciation “four” is close to death in Chinese language. Even numbers are ideal, the luckiest number is 8. Most other numbers are safe, but stick with even ones. These rules can be used when giving money or goods.
Common gifts given to friends are tea, fruits, home supplies. Gifts one would give to the elderly are hats, gloves, scarf, clothes, comb, or foot bath massager. It’s popular to pick things to benefit a senior’s health. Gifts given to children are candy, red envelopes/packets (hongbao), school supplies, books, toys, and clothes. Each gift has a specific reason for why it’s given, each gift is very thought out and sticks with the cultural beliefs. For example, one wouldn’t give someone a necklace to a friend, in Chinese culture necklaces, ties, and belts are a more intimate item. Also, one wouldn’t get a woman a green hat because it means they’re unfaithful.
This Chinese New Year is a very important celebration, it shows the love they have for their culture and each other.