Gong Xi Fa Cai! I just want to wish everyone a Blessed and Happy Chinese New Year! Here are my two lovely children wanting to wish you all a Happy New Year too!
For those who are not familiar with Chinese New Year, I’ve written this blog just for you! It has a few fun tidbits about Chinese New Year so you can join in on the festivities too!
Before I proceed, I just want to let you know that I’m not an expert when it comes to Chinese New Year. As a matter of fact, I am still learning traditions and customs that encompasses this special holiday season and I still have a lot of questions as to the meaning behind all the activities that are involved. However, I thought it will be fun to share 10 fun facts about Chinese New Year with all of you.
1. Chinese New Year likes to play hopscotch on the Gregorian calendar
Someone once asked me “When do you celebrate Chinese New Year?”. I told him that I was not sure because the date changes each year. He looked at me like I was crazy until I explained to him that Chinese New Year is based on the lunisolar calendar and is determined by when the new moon closest to the beginning of spring. Therefore the date for the start of Chinese New Year can “hop” anywhere within January 21st to February 21st. For 2017, January 28th marks the start of the Chinese New Year Celebration.
2. The whole family is involved in Spring Cleaning
Prior to the New Year, you gotta do a whole lot of cleaning! A thorough cleaning of your home from top to bottom is done to signify “removing the old and welcoming the new” to bring in the New Year. To tell you the truth, I don’t think I can ever say that I completely cleaned my home. I feel like I’m forever cleaning up house with the two kids and our pet rabbit. But it’s really nice to have everyone involved in spring cleaning.
3. Stocking up on Oranges
When Chinese New Year comes around make sure to stock up on oranges. Tangerines and oranges are often given as gifts and displayed around the house as decoration. The Chinese word for tangerines sounds similar to the word “luck” and orange sounds like the Chinese word for “wealth”. Therefore, when you give a gift of tangerine and oranges you are actually blessing the recipient with an abundance of happiness and prosperity for the New Year.
4. Decorating the house for Chinese New Year
Red becomes the most popular accent color during the Chinese New Year. Red symbolizes joy and happiness. You will often find hanging red lanterns, red paper cuttings displayed on walls and blossoming flowers as house decor. The red lanterns are used to ward off “bad luck”, the red paper cuttings is to bring “good luck” and the blossoming flowers is to symbolize the coming of spring and prosperity for the new year. Psst…Just so you know, I do not believe in “luck”, I believe in God’s grace and God’s blessings.
5. Family Gathers Together for Reunion Dinner
On the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year, all the members of the family will reunite for a reunion dinner. My family and I celebrated Chinese New Year eve by having our reunion dinner with a few of our brothers and sisters in Christ. This evening was extra special as it also marks Joanne and Jimmy’s 25th Anniversary and Joanne’s birthday! I cannot believe that they have been married for so long! They are both such lovely people with hearts of gold. Best wishes for this very special day for both of you!
6. Shou Sui
One of the traditional custom practiced on Chinese New Year’s eve is “Shou Sui”. “Shou” means waiting or watching and “Sui” means year. On this night, all family members get together and stay up late to see the New Year in. There’s a superstition that children who “Shou Sui” will increase the longevity of their parents. My two kids stayed up ’til about midnight to bring in the New Year with us. They fell asleep pretty fast when they crawled into bed!
7. Yu Sheng
I have never heard of Yu Sheng until I met Joanne and Naomi. Yu Sheng literally means “raw fish” but homophone can be interpreted as “increase in abundance”. It is a dish that consists of various shredded vegetables, with assorted toppings such as peanuts and sesame seeds, sweet plum sauce and slices of raw fish. Each ingredient has corresponding auspicious blessing associated with it. Everyone must gather around the dish and toss it as high as possible. It is believed that the higher you toss the ingredients, the more luck you will have for the New Year. This dish is fun and delicious!
8. Preparing the Red Packets
As a child, I loved collecting those (ang poa) red packets. The money sure help fatten up my piggy bank! Married couples and elders will give it to the children as a blessing . But once your married and earning an income you no longer get to collect the ang poa. You actually have to give it! But there is so much joy in giving them out – especially when the children in turn wishes you with good health, happiness and prosperity. My favorite wish by a child is “May you continue to remain beautiful year after year!” WOW! I wanted to give him 2 ang poas after hearing that!
9. Feasting On Symbolic Food
I never knew there was so much symbolism in food. Food plays such an important role in Chinese New Year. Some of the common food that are eaten during Chinese New Year are fish, dumplings, noodles and spring rolls. Fish symbolize abundance. Dumpling and spring rolls for wealth. Noodles for longevity. Prior to the New year I actually spent a whole afternoon making wonton dumplings for Chinese New Year. Dumplings symbolizes wealth because the shape of the dumplings resembles an old golden nugget. I will share a blog on the dumpling soon. They are so easy to make!
10. Starting the New Year with Nian Gao
Nian Gao is a glutinous rice “cake” that is popularly eaten during Chinese New Year because the homophone can be interpreted as “high year”. It symbolizes the wish for improving one self in the coming year. It is also a popular gift to be given and received.
That is it folks! I hope you enjoy reading this post on Chinese New Year and that it inspires you to learn more about different cultures that Canada has to offer! But before I leave, I just want to say that all good things come to us is through the grace of our Heavenly Father. Chinese New Year places a lot of emphasis on luck but I believe there is no such thing as luck. It is all a blessing from God. All things that are good are given to us as a gift from God.
From the fullness of grace we have all received one blessing after another. John 1:16
Happy Chinese New Year to all of you!