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Everything You Don’t Know about Chinese New Year
Hello everyone! We’re starting the new year every Wednesday with this segment of Talaga?, where I try my best to help you wonder about and explore a new part of the world, from the comfort of your own home. I’ll be sharing interesting facts, stories, images, and videos from a particular culture each week. This week, our focus is….China!
Most people have New Year’s resolutions, like to quit smoking, get more sleep, live a healthier life, or to stop procrastinating (but we’ll worry about that one later). However, one holiday celebrates the new year in a refreshing, magical, yet traditional manner – Chinese New Year. Since it follows the lunar calendar, it falls on a different day every year, usually in late January or February, hence its other common nickname, the Lunar New Year. This year, the holiday falls on January 28, 2017, marking the beginning of the new lunar calendar and the year of the Rooster, this year’s Chinese zodiac sign.
Every new year hopes to bring prosperity, happiness, love, and relaxation for all. Like many cultural holidays, different regions of the country may celebrate it in their own way, but there are similarities. One in particular that we can all unite over – FOOD. Food is essential when coming to the new year (it’s the only reason why I would visit 10 of my relatives houses). Fish is the most common and most symbolic, in fact. Eating it is believed to bring you a surplus of money, good luck, and general prosperity. Dumplings are also symbolic of money bags – the more you eat, the more wealth you’ll receive in the coming year. Other foods usually eaten include spring rolls, rice balls/cakes, or fruit.
Now with that food baby you have after eating endless plates of food at your parents house, you’d probably want to do enjoy some down time – with watching lion dancing! Lion dancing is the traditional Chinese New Year pastime that represents the journey to chase evil and ghostly spirits away from the good. It combines the beauty of swift movements with music, ancestral myths and kung-fu. Other customs include the classic red envelopes. These usually include money and are distributed to the unmarried, from married family members, or from the elders to the youth. The combination of the red and the envelopes showcase energy, good luck, and the passing of blessings from one to the other.
That being said – family is what it all comes down to at the end of the day. Family members come home from far away to enjoy each others company through a reunion dinner, decorating the house with lanterns and red ornaments galore, and awkwardly talking about how you still don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend. Don’t clean the house though! You’ll clean away the good luck. And don’t wear white either! It represents death. In the meantime, bang some pots and pans to drive away the bad luck and malevolent spirits, and just have a grand ol’ time.
Here are some other countries that celebrate the New Year in cool ways:
Denmark – Smash plates/china at a friends door as a sign of affection and long-lasting friendship.
Spain – Eat a dozen green grapes for good luck exactly at midnight – one for every month of the year.
Siberia – Cut a hole in a frozen lake, swim to the very bottom, and plant a tree.
Colombia – Run around your house as fast as you can with an empty suitcase – it’ll bring you travel in the new year.
Special shoutout to Jason Liu and Sigmund Kim Song Tejada (long much) for enlightening me with their vast knowledge of Chinese culture.
Written by Winona Zaky