Today marks the Chinese New Year, Year of the Dragon. We always like to take a little extra time and teach our children about international cultures and this holiday is a perfect one to spotlight! The Chinese New Year ranks high as the most important festivals and celebrations in China. The first day of the Chinese year marks the start of spring. People from all over the country gather together and greet each other on this occasion. Let us discuss various aspects related to Chinese New Year and how to celebrate it.
The history of Chinese New Year is quite interesting. It is believed that in ancient China, there was a monster that used to destroy the crops and frighten people. One day, few people tried burning crackers and flying red banners so as to keep the monster away. The idea made its impact on the monster and he left away. Since then, every year this occasion is celebrated with the same spirit. Scientifically, the Chinese follow Lunar Calendar and it is different from the commonly used western calendar. The Chinese New Year is commonly mentioned as abbreviated form CNY.
Let us now discuss the CNY celebrations. The celebrations begin with a reunion dinner where all the family members gather at one place and take the meal together. Though traditionally the New Year dinner is done at home, some families have also started organizing the dinners at restaurants. After the dinner ends the family members play cards together to spend some quality time together. As soon as the clock hits 12 people start burning firecrackers and you will notice the whole sky captured with fireworks. This is one of the rare scenes you will ever see in your life. However, due to the health hazards associated with crackers, the Chinese government has restricted the use of crackers in cities. However at the country side a number of people still burn crackers celebrating the beginning of New Year. People also visit their friends and relatives on this occasion. Most of the people are dressed in new outfits and the color of the dress is red. The red signifies the color which succeeded in getting a Chinese monster away, as believed traditionally. The children receive red packets called ‘Hong-pow’ from adults. These packets contain money for children which they can use throughout the year.
The traditional Chinese dance and songs are also popular during this time. Moreover Chinese opera and other popular Chinese performances are also displayed by all the TV channels. Traditionally the Chinese year is celebrated for 15 days but as the people have become very busy these days it is in its full effect for 3-4 days only. The people also give New year greeting cards to relatives and friends. If you have Chinese friends you can also wish them New Year in Chinese. Here are some common Chinese New Year greetings and their meanings in English:
“Sing Nian Kuay Le” – Happy New Year.
“Gong Xi Fa Cai” – Have a prosperous new year
“Zu Ni Nian Nian You Yu” – Wishing you a abundant year
Finally, the people also carry two oranges with them while visiting another family on this occasion. This is considered a good sign and is associated with bringing wealth to the family . I hope this post helped you to understand the traditions associated with the Chinese New Year. I hope I covered everything, please let me know if there are any details that I missed. We love learning about new cultures and traditions! Happy New Year