- Why is Chinese New Year important?
- Why is Chinese New Year celebrated?
- What happens on Chinese New Year?
- What does the Chinese New Year symbolise?
Traditional festivals and celebrations are extremely important for indigenous and immigrant communities around the globe. They help retain and propagate culture and promote a sense of togetherness among the people. 🤗
The Chinese New Year is the most important celebration for Chinese communities across the globe. With lots of cultural and historical significance attached, this festival embodies many things prevalent in Chinese culture. The Chinese New Year signifies the beginning of spring and the start of a new year in the Chinese Lunar Calendar.
This article will tell you more about the history behind Chinese New Year and how it is celebrated.
Why is Chinese New Year important?
The Chinese New Year begins on the first day of the lunar month in the Chinese calendar. This is usually between the 21st of January and the 20th of February. In 2022, Chinese New Year is on the 1st of February.
Chinese immigrants across the world were often met with hostility on their arrival. The Chinese New Year’s parade was thrown to showcase the grandeur and positivity of their culture in an attempt to strengthen the relations between the immigrants and the native communities in these cities. Parades like these are still seen in San Francisco (where it originated), London’s Trafalgar Square, New York’s Chinatown, and Helsinki.
Why is Chinese New Year celebrated?
There are many reasons behind the celebration of the Chinese New Year. One of them is about how thousands of years ago the Chinese fought a battle against Nian, a terrifying beast that would attack villagers and livestock. The villagers are said to have used fireworks and red symbols of positivity to chase away the beast. The people’s victory is marked by this particular day.
One of the other reasons for celebrating this holiday is that it marks a day of rest for the Chinese farmers and the working class. This is also why, even today, many Chinese locals can be found travelling back to their villages to rest and recuperate. 😴
What happens on Chinese New Year?
As you can imagine, celebrations in different countries and cities differ massively. For example, in Singapore, it is customary to gift friends two oranges in a paper bag. In Vietnam, adults give children small red envelopes filled with money, burst firecrackers, and eat traditional food. In China, some people continue to offer sacrifices to the Shang dynasty, a tradition that started in 1600 BC.
Some Chinese communities celebrate Chinese New Year by cleaning their homes to get rid of any lingering bad luck, visiting their family, honouring relatives that have passed away, and bursting firecrackers.
One of the most important traditional activities of the Chinese New Year is the ‘Reunion Dinner’. On the eve of Chinese New Year, extended family members share a meal of ‘lucky’ food, like fish or dumplings.
The Lantern Festival usually marks the end of the Chinese New Year. The people either hang candle-lit lanterns in sacred places or carry them through a nighttime parade. This parade typically also involves a long, colourful dragon (symbol of good fortune) being carried through the streets.
What does the Chinese New Year symbolise?
The Chinese New Year has a lot of cultural and historical significance. The festival, also known as the Spring Festival, represents the beginning of spring and the onset of a new year. For the Chinese, this day symbolises a new start in one’s life and is, therefore, a day for spreading a refreshing sense of hope and an invitation for new forms of prosperity, wealth, and happiness.
The first day of the new year, according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar, is referred to in two different ways. One is as the ‘New Year’ or 新年 (xīnnián) in traditional Chinese, and the second is as the Spring Festival or 春 節 (chūn jié).
Chinese New Year is deeply rooted in history and has remained the most important celebration for generations of Chinese families to reunite and spend quality time together. Over the years, many families have been separated due to career choices, educational opportunities, and rapid global urbanisation. This festival often brings them back together and is believed to ensure good fortune for the new year.
The Chinese New Year is a festival of warmth and brotherhood that celebrates the victory of good over evil, among many other things. We encourage you to read more about this fascinating festival to understand Chinese culture better.