CHINESE NEW YEAR
While the western world has learnt to take the new-year on
its stride, by February, the Chinese and Japanese
suddenly wake up to celebrate life, somewhere around
spring! Yes, the Chinese have a new-year too and it
falls a month after January that is in the spring month
Known as Li Chun, the solar new-year usually falls on the 4th
of February every year. Unlike the new-year that begins
on the dot of 12 midnight all over, the Chinese year
commences at a different time every year. This year, the
year of the rat began at 19:00, on 7th
February! The time of the arrival is marked in the
‘Tong-shu’ which is the Chinese almanac. The tong
shu considers the lunar, as well as the solar cycle.
Thus, the new-year starts on the new moon day of the
new-year, ending on the full moon day, thereby extending
up to 14 days!
How is New Year celebrated?
On new-year’s eve, fire-crackers are lit to scare away the
devils and thus the old and tired year leaves.
The Chinese spring clean their homes prior to new-year and
not during new-year. Sweeping, mopping etc makes one
sweep or mop away prosperity. The Gods will be raining
fortune during the new-year and hence homes should be
cleansed clean to welcome blessings. It’s only after
new-year, do Chinese sweep dirt or wash their hair!
New-year is like any other traditional festival that is
celebrated across the globe. Like Christmas, where
relatives and friends gather, the Chinese culture seeped
in traditions, new-year is usually a family affair.
However, all the dining and wining is preceded by paying
obeisance to departed souls. The Chinese go as far as to
find a suitable spot for their own burial, even when
they are alive and kicking. In yin house Feng Shui that
deals with finding a suitable site for burying the dead,
people ensure that their ancestors are buried at a
suitable spot after death, as this brings immense good
fortune to descendants. Thus, many traditional Chinese
people with the help of Feng Shui masters help find a
suitable spot for themselves even before their death!
Little wonder then that even Chinese new- year
celebrations commence with paying ones respects to
departed ancestors. Living elders are given a cordial
treatment and revered.
This coming together of young and old and by honoring the
departed souls, during the feasting marks the wei lu or
community feast, signifying the unity between family
None should be found crying, as if you cry on this day, you
will have to cry throughout the year!
The 15 day long celebrations
New-year begins in spring and people decorate their homes
with blossoms of spring flowers like peonies and plum
blossoms which signify prosperity and fertility. All
ensure that their garden has one flower blossoming on
At the altar, along with flowers, are placed oranges, lemons
and pomegranates. The orange, yellow and red colors
spell life and vitality. People wear red, yellow and
green and avoid white and black.
On the first day, people abstain from meat. The second day is
celebrated as the birthday of dogs and pet and strays
are fed for the canine’s unflinching loyalty. On the
third to the fourth day, men pay respects to their
in-laws, because the woman a man has married was groomed
by devoted parents who raised devoted, humane, kind and
chaste daughters. The oriental philosophy considers
women as wealth and women are harbingers of prosperity!
On the fifth day known as Po Wu, people usually do not
venture out of their homes, as it is believed that the
God of Wealth would visit them at home. However, the
sixth day marks a time to visit temples, relatives and
The seventh day is celebrated as farmer’s day. Remember,
Chinese new-year falls in spring! The Chinese have
divided the year into five main seasons. As new-year
falls in spring, it is also celebration time for
farmers, who take pride in the fresh foliage that spring
up and the greenery surrounding them. Noodles signifying
fertility and prosperity are cooked and eaten.
On the 8th day, Chinese pray to Tian Gong or the
Gods of the heavens. On the 9th day, food
offerings are made to the Jade emperor. The rest of the
days, people just celebrate by eating, drinking and
inviting loved ones for parties and of course attending
parties too. On the 13th day, people partake
only of simple meals, to cleanse the bowels after heavy
The lantern festival
The famous lantern-festival for which the land is famous, is
celebrated on the 14th and the 15th day. If
you notice, the new-year commences on a new moon day and
ends on a full moon day. Thus, on the 15th
day, as the moon appears alluring as a ball of white
light on an ink blue sky, people create resplendent
lanterns to resemble moon and the whole land is
illuminated with light!
The Dingshikou town in Beijing houses and sells various
lanterns and the entire place is illuminated with
beautiful lantern. The place is so called because Ding
in Chinese means lantern or soft light and shi is market
or shop. Thus the name Dingshikou.
Legend has it that the Jade emperor in the heaven was furious
when he found his goose dead on earth. He wanted to set
the town ablaze, but a fairy informed the people on
earth and advised them to hold thousands of lanterns
that night. Upon seeing the several lanterns swimming
mid-air on earth, resembling a raging fire, the Jade
emperor’s anger was quelled.
Entry of the Buddha
The lantern festival is also believed as the dream of the
Buddha a king had, which made him build a temple for the
Buddha in China.
Yuan Yuan Xiao and Tang Yuan are sweets made of rice balls
that are devoured. Round rice balls signify the cycles
of seasons, of luck and symbolize unity.
Youngsters are gifted with a red envelope called ‘Lai
See’, which contains money given by elders. People
wish each other with Kung Hey Fat Choy or Happy New