Celebrating Chinese New Year

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Brian Hennessy. An Australian in China. January, 2020

Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival as it is known locally, is China’s longest and most important festival. It begins with the first new moon of the lunar calendar and ends on the first full moon, 15 days later.

Every year has a zodiac animal: the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. Positive traits of these animals are bestowed on people born in that year. For example; people born in the year of the Tiger are independent and have high self-esteem. They love justice and enjoy being the leader and protector of average people. (A negative trait is recklessness).



Celebrating Chinese New Year 


How do Chinese people celebrate Spring Festival?

Prior to Spring Festival in China, houses are cleaned in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and make way for incoming good luck. Windows and doors are decorated with red paper-cuts and characters spelling out themes of good fortune, happiness, wealth, and longevity. Further, any outstanding debts are repaid to make sure that the New Year begins with a clean slate.

And all over the country, millions of relatives will travel long distances in overcrowded buses and trains (and by air) to return to their hometown and reunite with family.

Chinese people value family – the Confucian bedrock of this ancient society – and at the beginning of Spring Festival the extended family will gather together for a celebratory banquet.

After the meal, everyone will relax by playing mah-jong, eating leftovers from the banquet, and watching variety shows on TV. Later on, absent relatives will be visited, money will be given in red envelopes, and firecrackers and rockets will be lit in order to banish any bad spirits which might have been hanging around. 

During this time individuals will speak kind words to each other because they believe that bad words spoken at the beginning of the year may attract bad luck for the rest of the year. It is important to celebrate the new year with correct behaviour and good intentions.

Xin nian kuaile (Happy New Year); and Gong xi fa cai (Hope you will be rich).

Happy Chinese New year to everybody!






Published in the Cairns Post. January 27, 2020




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