Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays.
In China, it is known as “Spring Festival,” the literal translation of the Chinese name 春節 (Pinyin: Chūn Jié), since the spring season in Chinese calendar starts with lichun, the first solar term in a Chinese calendar year. It marks the end of the winter season, analogous to the Western carnival. The festival begins on the first day of the first month (Chinese: 正月; pinyin: Zhēng Yuè) in the traditional Chinese calendar and ends with Lantern Festival which is on the 15th day. Chinese New Year’s Eve, a day where Chinese families gather for their annual reunion dinner, is known as Chú Xī (除夕) or “Eve of the Passing Year.” Because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, the Chinese New Year is often referred to as the “Lunar New Year“.
Preparing time for welcoming the chinese new year! From yesterday to today we cleaning the house.. Cooking and eating together.. There is so much tradition actually but we not really follow that anymore.. I’m cooking shrimp today, for the recipes i will post it later guys.. For me its not just to celebrate the chinese year but the spirit of togetherness.. And the spirit that believe this year is going to be so much better from the year before..
According to tales and legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called the Nian (Chinese: 年; pinyin: nián). Nian would come on the first day of New Year to eat livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially children. To protect themselves, the villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning of every year. It was believed that after the Nian ate the food they prepared, it wouldn’t attack any more people. One time, people saw that the Nian was scared away by a little child wearing red. The villagers then understood that the Nian was afraid of the colour red. Hence, every time when the New Year was about to come, the villagers would hang red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nian. From then on, Nian never came to the village again. The Nian was eventually captured by Hongjun Laozu, an ancient Taoist monk. The Nian became Hongjun Laozu’s mount.
As with all cultures, Chinese New Year traditions incorporate elements that are symbolic of deeper meaning. One common example of Chinese New Year symbolism is the red diamond-shaped fú characters (Chinese: 福, Cantonese and Hakka: Fook, literally “blessings, happiness”), which are displayed on the entrances of Chinese homes. This sign is usually seen hanging upside down, since the Chinese word 倒 “upside down”, is homophonous or nearly homophonous with 到 “arrive” in all varieties of Chinese. Therefore, it symbolizes the arrival of luck, happiness, and prosperity.
Red is the predominant colour used in New Year celebrations. Red is the emblem of joy, and this colour also symbolizes virtue, truth and sincerity. On the Chinese opera stage, a painted red face usually denotes a sacred or loyal personage and sometimes a great emperor. Candies, cakes, decorations and many things associated with the New Year and its ceremonies are coloured red. The sound of the Chinese word for “red” ( 紅) is “hong” in Mandarin (Hakka: Fung; Cantonese: Hoong) which also means “prosperous.” Therefore, red is an auspicious colour and has an auspicious sound.
The most common auspicious greetings and sayings consist of four characters, such as the following:
- 金玉滿堂Jinyu mantang – “May your wealth [gold and jade] come to fill a hall”
- 大展鴻圖Dazhan hongtu – “May you realize your ambitions”
- 迎春接福Yingchun jiefu – “Greet the New Year and encounter happiness”
- 萬事如意Wanshi ruyi – “May all your wishes be fulfilled”
- 吉慶有餘Jiqing youyu – “May your happiness be without limit”
- 竹報平安Zhubao pingan – “May you hear [in a letter] that all is well”
- 一本萬利Yiban wanli = “May a small investment bring ten-thousandfold profits”
- 福壽雙全Fushou shuangquan – “May your happiness and longevity be complete”
- 招財進寶Zhaocai jinbao – “When wealth is acquired, precious objects follow”
These greetings or phrases may also be used just before children receive their red packets, when gifts are exchanged, when visiting temples, or even when tossing the shredded ingredients of yusheng particularly popular in Malaysia and Singapore.
Children and teenagers sometimes jokingly use the phrase (Traditional Chinese:恭喜發財,紅包拿來, Simplified Chinese: 恭喜发财，红包拿来) (Mandarin PinYin: gōng xǐ fā cái, hóng bāo ná lái) (Cantonese: 恭喜發財,利是逗來) roughly translated as “Congratulations and be prosperous, now give me a red envelope!”. In the Hakka dialect the saying is more commonly said as ‘Gung hee fatt choi, fung bao diu loi’ which would be written as 恭喜發財,紅包逗來 – a mixture of the Cantonese and Mandarin variants of the saying.
Back in the 1970s, children in Hong Kong used the saying: 恭喜發財,利是逗來,伍毫嫌少,壹蚊唔愛 (Cantonese), roughly translated as, “Congratulations and be prosperous, now give me a red envelope, fifty cents is too little, don’t want a dollar either.” It basically meant that they disliked small change – coins which were called “hard substance” (Cantonese: 硬嘢). Instead, they wanted “soft substance” (Cantonese: 軟嘢), which was either a ten dollar or a twenty dollar bill.