Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year

Every culture has its own new year and is celebrated at different times of the Gregorian calendar. Currently, there are five most important New Year’s celebrated throughout the world, namely Chinese, Islamic, Thai, Ethiopia, Jewish and the Gregorian. They all follow their own rules that are based on their own but different historical developments.

The history of calendars goes all the way back to the beginning of the civilization and is believed that the first calendar was developed during the bronze age (Neolithic Era) in the current Middle East. History shows that the ancient period calendars were based on the phases of the moon. Since then, many cultures have developed their own calendars.

The beginning of the new year in many cultures are celebrated in some manner and the first day of the year is usually marked as the national holiday. Today, the Gregorian calendar is the most widely used calendar in the world and its new year starts with the 1st day of January. Currently, the most common calendars in the world are; Julian calendar (46 BC), Hebrew/Jewish calendar (10 AD), Hijri/Muslim calendar (622 AD), Persian calendar (> 2000 years old), Buddhist calendar, Hindu calendar, Japanese calendar (701 AD), Chinese calendar, and the Gregorian calendar, the most common and widely celebrated calendar in the world.

Chinese calendar is based on lunar movement just like the Islamic calendar. Each month starts with the new moon phase. The Chinese New Year begins when the moon is midway between the winter solstice and spring equinox. In the modern times, Chinese calendar is mostly used for the holidays’ celebrations while the Gregorian calendar is used for all other activities. Unlike the Gregorian calendar, the Chinese calendar changes every year with the position of the moon in the solar system. This year the Chinese New Year’s celebrations will start from January 22nd through February 6th (first day of the new moon to the FULL moon phase, total 15 days).

The Chinese New Year, in addition to be celebrated in China, it is also celebrated in many countries of East and Southeast Asia, like Vietnam, Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), Indonesia, Malaysia, and in many other countries where good size Chinese population is living, like the US, Europe, South America, Canada, etc.

Like in the other cultures and countries, new year is the time of togetherness and celebrations with the families and friends. In many cases, people travel long distances to be with their loved ones by taking very long journeys.

In China, every year about 50 million people travel to their hometowns to unite with their families and the elderly parents living in the rural villages. This creates the largest human migration event in the modern times that takes place every year in China.

During the last few years, due to the pandemics, the travels were not allowed and as a result millions of people could not go to visit and to celebrate the festivities with their families and loved ones. This year has been very unique as this is the first time since 2019 that the Chinese people will be able to travel due to the uplifting of the zero COVID policy by the Chinese government. It is estimated that this year about 70 million people will be travelling by taking about 2 billion trips!

The Chinese zodiac (Shengxiao) calendar is about 2000 years old and it goes back to the Qin Dynasty. As a matter of fact, as late as couple of decades ago the calendar was an integral part of the everyday life. The parents and the noble men of the society used to determine fortunes for the year, marriage compatibility, career paths, best times to have a baby, and many more special events of one’s life.

The Chinese zodiac is based on twelve-years cycle and each year is marked with a distinct animal. How did the animals got their positions in the Zodiac is a legendary story told with some variations in Chinese regions.

The legend has it that the Jade Emperor wanted to give some order in passing of the seasons by assigning an animal to each year of the 12-year cycle by holding a race across the river. The 1st twelve animals who will make it across the river to the emperor will be named in the zodiac. As the word went out in the kingdom, the race started on the assigned day and the time. For some, the race was easy and for others, challenging and needed help from their friends.

Rat started taking the lead as being a swift runner but when reached to the river could not cross it and started contemplating. He saw the Ox charging to cross the river. The Rat jumped on the Ox’s back and after crossing the river took off from the back to be the leader of the pack to reach to the emperor and thus became the 1st animal to be named. Then came the Ox and was assigned the 2nd place. After fighting the strong river currents, the Tiger reached and became the 3rd animal of the zodiac.

Soon after the Rabbit came by bouncing & hopping around and took the 4th place. Next came the Dragon soaring through the passage and landed at the Jade Emperor’s feet. The Emperor was astonished by the Dragon’s late arrival and not winning the race, he asked about it. The Dragon said that on my way, I saw a big fire on the farm and being of good nature and responsible citizen of the kingdom, I stopped to put the fire off and that made me to lose time and making my arrival late!

The emperor inducted him on the 5th place. The Horse was getting so close to get the next place that all of a sudden, the Snake slither through and assumed the 6th place by depriving the Horse, who got the 7th place.

A little later, the Sheep, Monkey, and Rooster, all together crossed the river in a raft and decided to give the 8th place to good natured & calming influence Sheep. The Monkey and Rooster were assigned 9th & 10th positions respectively. Not long after, the Dog came charging and was assigned the 11th place. By now, only one position was left, and everyone was anxiously waiting to see who will be the last one to claim the 12th position.

They all heard the loud grunt, and here came the Pig becoming the 12th animal to completing the zodiac cycle. And this is one of the most common versions behind naming the Chinese zodiac with the animals!

The new year is celebrated by cleaning and decorating the houses with lanterns and other decoration items, usually made of predominantly of red and some golden colors. In Chinese culture, the color red is associated with energy, happiness, and good luck. Firecrackers are also very important part of the Chinese New Year Celebrations.

On the New Year’s Eve, the firecrackers are used to scare off the monsters and bad luck, so people stay up late and set up firecrackers at midnight. In the morning, the firecrackers are again used to welcome the new year with good luck and good fortune.

The same night, families also burn fake paper money and printed gold bars in honor of their deceased loved ones with the belief that it will bring good luck and fortune to the ancestors in their afterlife. The Chinese New Year is celebrated by more than 25% of the world population and it is the most important holiday in China and to Chinese people all over the world. It is also called spring festival and it marks the end of the coldest days and beginning of the spring & planting seasons.

Traditional dinners are eaten during the first few days of the New Year, starting with the New Year Eve dinner. Dumplings are eaten for good luck & prosperity, handmade noodles are eaten for longevity & happiness, spring rolls for wealth, sticky buns (Tangyuan) for the family togetherness, rice cakes (Niangao) for higher income & promotions, fish for abundance & surplus, vegetables for energy & progress, fresh fruits & sweets for fullness. They are also referred as the lucky foods of the Chinese New Year.

Like in other cultures, children receive gifts for the New Year’s celebrations, but in the Chinese culture, children receive red envelopes that have real money in it. With the technological advancements, particularly in the current Chinese cashless society, ‘digital’ red envelopes are getting more common. People like to send one red envelope into a group chat and watch the others fight for the money. This is called ‘Qiang Hongbao’ or literally snatching the red envelopes.
This year is the year of the rabbit. Rabbit is considered as a very adorable, soft, friendly pet animal with no aggression against anyone. The people who are born in the year of the rabbit are considered having very many traits of the rabbit.

For example, they are very friendly, gentle, quiet, polite, soft spoken, likable, easygoing, intelligent, chic, well planners but also easily giving up if something does not work out and can also be lonely in times and introvert in nature. The ancient Chinese believed that there was a rabbit in the moon rather than a man in the moon!
Let’s celebrate the year of the Rabbit! “Gong xi fa cai”…… “Xinnian Kuaile”…… “Guang hay fat choy”

Every culture has its own new year and is celebrated at different times of the Gregorian calendar. Currently, there are five most important New Year’s celebrated throughout the world, namely Chinese, Islamic, Thai, Ethiopia, Jewish and the Gregorian. They all follow their own rules that are based on their own but different historical developments.

The history of calendars goes all the way back to the beginning of the civilization and is believed that the first calendar was developed during the bronze age (Neolithic Era) in the current Middle East. History shows that the ancient period calendars were based on the phases of the moon. Since then, many cultures have developed their own calendars.

The beginning of the new year in many cultures are celebrated in some manner and the first day of the year is usually marked as the national holiday. Today, the Gregorian calendar is the most widely used calendar in the world and its new year starts with the 1st day of January.

Currently, the most common calendars in the world are; Julian calendar (46 BC), Hebrew/Jewish calendar (10 AD), Hijri/Muslim calendar (622 AD), Persian calendar (> 2000 years old), Buddhist calendar, Hindu calendar, Japanese calendar (701 AD), Chinese calendar, and the Gregorian calendar, the most common and widely celebrated calendar in the world.

Chinese calendar is based on lunar movement just like the Islamic calendar. Each month starts with the new moon phase. The Chinese New Year begins when the moon is midway between the winter solstice and spring equinox. In the modern times, Chinese calendar is mostly used for the holidays’ celebrations while the Gregorian calendar is used for all other activities.

Unlike the Gregorian calendar, the Chinese calendar changes every year with the position of the moon in the solar system. This year the Chinese New Year’s celebrations will start from January 22nd through February 6th (first day of the new moon to the FULL moon phase, total 15 days). The Chinese New Year, in addition to be celebrated in China, it is also celebrated in many countries of East and Southeast Asia, like Vietnam, Philippines, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar (Burma), Indonesia, Malaysia, and in many other countries where good size Chinese population is living, like the US, Europe, South America, Canada, etc.

Like in the other cultures and countries, new year is the time of togetherness and celebrations with the families and friends. In many cases, people travel long distances to be with their loved ones by taking very long journeys.

In China, every year about 50 million people travel to their hometowns to unite with their families and the elderly parents living in the rural villages. This creates the largest human migration event in the modern times that takes place every year in China.

During the last few years, due to the pandemics, the travels were not allowed and as a result millions of people could not go to visit and to celebrate the festivities with their families and loved ones. This year has been very unique as this is the first time since 2019 that the Chinese people will be able to travel due to the uplifting of the zero COVID policy by the Chinese government. It is estimated that this year about 70 million people will be travelling by taking about 2 billion trips!

The Chinese zodiac (Shengxiao) calendar is about 2000 years old and it goes back to the Qin Dynasty. As a matter of fact, as late as couple of decades ago the calendar was an integral part of the everyday life. The parents and the noble men of the society used to determine fortunes for the year, marriage compatibility, career paths, best times to have a baby, and many more special events of one’s life.

The Chinese zodiac is based on twelve-years cycle and each year is marked with a distinct animal. How did the animals got their positions in the Zodiac is a legendary story told with some variations in Chinese regions. The legend has it that the Jade Emperor wanted to give some order in passing of the seasons by assigning an animal to each year of the 12-year cycle by holding a race across the river.

The 1st twelve animals who will make it across the river to the emperor will be named in the zodiac. As the word went out in the kingdom, the race started on the assigned day and the time. For some, the race was easy and for others, challenging and needed help from their friends. Rat started taking the lead as being a swift runner but when reached to the river could not cross it and started contemplating. He saw the Ox charging to cross the river.

The Rat jumped on the Ox’s back and after crossing the river took off from the back to be the leader of the pack to reach to the emperor and thus became the 1st animal to be named. Then came the Ox and was assigned the 2nd place. After fighting the strong river currents, the Tiger reached and became the 3rd animal of the zodiac.

Soon after the Rabbit came by bouncing & hopping around and took the 4th place. Next came the Dragon soaring through the passage and landed at the Jade Emperor’s feet. The Emperor was astonished by the Dragon’s late arrival and not winning the race, he asked about it. The Dragon said that on my way, I saw a big fire on the farm and being of good nature and responsible citizen of the kingdom, I stopped to put the fire off and that made me to lose time and making my arrival late! The emperor inducted him on the 5th place.

The Horse was getting so close to get the next place that all of a sudden, the Snake slither through and assumed the 6th place by depriving the Horse, who got the 7th place.

A little later, the Sheep, Monkey, and Rooster, all together crossed the river in a raft and decided to give the 8th place to good natured & calming influence Sheep. The Monkey and Rooster were assigned 9th & 10th positions respectively. Not long after, the Dog came charging and was assigned the 11th place. By now, only one position was left, and everyone was anxiously waiting to see who will be the last one to claim the 12th position. They all heard the loud grunt, and here came the Pig becoming the 12th animal to completing the zodiac cycle. And this is one of the most common versions behind naming the Chinese zodiac with the animals!

The new year is celebrated by cleaning and decorating the houses with lanterns and other decoration items, usually made of predominantly of red and some golden colors. In Chinese culture, the color red is associated with energy, happiness, and good luck. Firecrackers are also very important part of the Chinese New Year Celebrations.

On the New Year’s Eve, the firecrackers are used to scare off the monsters and bad luck, so people stay up late and set up firecrackers at midnight. In the morning, the firecrackers are again used to welcome the new year with good luck and good fortune.

The same night, families also burn fake paper money and printed gold bars in honor of their deceased loved ones with the belief that it will bring good luck and fortune to the ancestors in their afterlife. The Chinese New Year is celebrated by more than 25% of the world population and it is the most important holiday in China and to Chinese people all over the world. It is also called spring festival and it marks the end of the coldest days and beginning of the spring & planting seasons.

Traditional dinners are eaten during the first few days of the New Year, starting with the New Year Eve dinner. Dumplings are eaten for good luck & prosperity, handmade noodles are eaten for longevity & happiness, spring rolls for wealth, sticky buns (Tangyuan) for the family togetherness, rice cakes (Nian Gao) for higher income & promotions, fish for abundance & surplus, vegetables for energy & progress, fresh fruits & sweets for fullness. They are also referred as the lucky foods of the Chinese New Year.

Like in other cultures, children receive gifts for the New Year’s celebrations, but in the Chinese culture, children receive red envelopes that have real money in it. With the technological advancements, particularly in the current Chinese cashless society, ‘digital’ red envelopes are getting more common. People like to send one red envelope into a group chat and watch the others fight for the money. This is called ‘Qiang Hongbao’ or literally snatching the red envelopes.

This year is the year of the rabbit. Rabbit is considered as a very adorable, soft, friendly pet animal with no aggression against anyone. The people who are born in the year of the rabbit are considered having very many traits of the rabbit.

For example, they are very friendly, gentle, quiet, polite, soft spoken, likable, easygoing, intelligent, chic, well planners but also easily giving up if something does not work out and can also be lonely in times and introvert in nature. The ancient Chinese believed that there was a rabbit in the moon rather than a man in the moon!
Let’s celebrate the year of the Rabbit! “Gong xi fa cai”…… “Xinnian Kuaile”…… “Guang hay fat choy”

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