Feb 12, 2018

Chinese New Year: Traditions

 

February is already here. The whole world is gearing up for the coming week. The streets will be dressed in red… not for Valentine’s Day, but for Chinese New Year, which falls on Friday, February 16, 2018. The Year of the Dog is about to begin and the world is watching – the popularity of the occasion is only increasing from year to year. As Chinese New Year celebrations spread across the globe, the face of the festivities keep on changing. But there are a few traditions that have remained constant, despite the changing times and cultures. Some of the best known and most sincerely followed Chinese New Year traditions are as below:

 

Fireworks

As with western New Year celebrations, Chinese New Year celebrations, too, are incomplete without elaborate firecrackers. At the stroke of midnight, February 16, the sky gets lit up with fireworks. The first person who bursts a firecracker as the clock strikes twelve is believed to have a very successful year ahead!

It is said that firecrackers have been set off for centuries by the Chinese, to ward off evil spirits at the start of the new year. In major cities like Shanghai and Hong Kong, the fireworks display on Chinese New Year’s eve are a sight to behold.

 

 

Red Envelopes

Decorated red envelopes are something that can be spotted in abundance around the time of the Chinese New Year. These envelopes contain money. Traditionally the only kind of money people put in these was the Chinese Yuan but as times change, these might contain anything from dollars, pounds to euros!

These envelopes are gifted by elder members of the family to youngsters. Married couples, especially, gift these to younger unmarried members of the family and to children. It is believed that the money received by children during the new year will keep them healthy and away from evil spirits for the rest of the year. Employers also give red envelopes to their employees during this time of year.

 

Dumplings

Almost everything done around the Chinese New Year has some meaning attached to it. Eating sumptuous dumplings is definitely not an exception! Eating dumplings on the New Year’s Eve is an ancient tradition. Jiaozi or dumplings are made with flour and are prepared with different kinds of stuffing. Dumplings are mostly eaten around this time to welcome wealth into the coming year. It appears that this belief originated because the dumplings’ shape resembles that of an old Chinese currency.

Every dumpling has a different stuffing, each of which signifies something different; like coins for wealth, candy for a sweet life and peanuts for a long life and health. Apart from dumplings, mandarin oranges and chewy Niangao are also eaten during this time.

 

 

Deep Clean

Houses are thoroughly cleaned, inside and out, around the time of the new year. Everything from the house, to the things inside the house, are scrubbed and cleaned. The cleaning is said to take out all the evil spirits from the house.

On the other hand, on the actual day of the new year, it is considered bad to clean the house as this action is said to sweep out all the good luck and spirit from the house. Not just the house; washing clothes or hair is also considered bad, on the eve and the day of the new year, as this is said to wash good luck away.

 

 

Wearing Red

Red is considered an auspicious colour during the Chinese New Year celebrations. Not only are most of the decorations red in colour, people also like to dress up in red clothes. While red is considered good, monochrome clothing and decorations are equally frowned upon around this time. Wearing black or white around Chinese New Year is said to bring bad luck.

It’s not just the outer clothes that are under scrutiny, but inner clothes as well. It’s said that wearing red underwear can ward off evil spirits, especially for the people born in that year: that is, all people born in Years of the Dog are said to be prone to evil influences all through the year, as 2018-19 is the Year of the Dog. They must, therefore, wear red underwear all through the year to protect themselves.

 

 

Gift Exchange

Although it is a time for exchanging gifts and distributing money, there are a few things that should not be gifted around the Chinese New Year, as they hold negative connotations in Chinese traditional history. Clocks, scissors and pears are to be strictly avoided as gifts.

 

The most important tradition, though, which absolutely must be followed around the time of the new year, is to put all the worries aside and enjoy the weekend with the whole family! Feasts, family and fun are largely stressed upon and celebrated in the form of large dinners, parades, fireworks and lots of sweets.

 

Mozaic Club would like to wish you a very Happy Chinese New Year! May this weekend be magical and may the Year of the Dog bring you everything that your heart desires!

 

 

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