Since it is still January and since I get sucked into my own quests for knowledge like no other I am going to continue on my last blog touching on the history of New Year. This time, I got to thinking about the Chinese New Year. It is the one different New Year tradition that the majority of people I run into have at least heard of – whether it be to know what year they were born in or the festival surrounding it, this ancient tradition has captured the attention of many people the world over.
Since 1912, China as a country has celebrated the calendar New Year on December 31st – January 1stwith the majority of the world. The Chinese New Year is not a set calendar date, and is still celebrated today as Spring Festival, starting on the first new moon of the New Year and ending 15 days later on the full moon. The Chinese New Year is always on a different day, since it is based on a combination of the lunar and solar scheduled movements. This causes an extra month to be added in every few years – the equivalent to our leap years. There is a lot of history and tradition seeped into every aspect of the actual Chinese New Year ceremonies, from religious ceremonies to all of Heaven and Earth to recognizing the ancestors and all their sacrifice (family specific).
The ancestor portion of the ceremonies is usually the most significant, and is celebrated with a feast dedicated to them on the Chinese New Year’s Eve known as weilu (surrounding the stove). This weilu is a symbol of all the current and past generations of a family, and is meant to promote unity and honor within those generations for the upcoming year. Along with the deep traditions and religious implications of the Chinese New Year, there are many rituals and superstitions followed by the culture. For instance, the house should be completely and thoroughly cleaned before New Year’s Day, with all cleaning equipment and materials put away on New Year’s Eve. Then, after, you can sweep the floors beginning at the door, to the middle then to the corners, and not removed until the fifth day of the New Year, and never trampling on the piles. When taken out, it must go out the back door – this is due to an ancient belief that anything going out before this will be sweeping one of the family away, and to take anything out the front is to take away the good fortune or luck of the family.
Also, at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, every door and window should be open to let the old year leave and the New come. No cursing, no unlucky words should pass your lips, nor should anything about dying, death or ghosts, the past year or crying….as whatever passes will come to you in abundance that year. Do not wash your hair or you wash away good luck, red is a good bright color that is seen to welcome good fortune. Knives or scissors are avoided as they can cut good fortune. There are many more traditions that many may not believe in any longer but that are still done out of the view that these traditions are what connect the past with the present and the future.
The coming Chinese New Year is to begin on January 31, 2014 and the upcoming year is the year of the horse…and that is something that is a blog in and of itself, the year of and etc…so, until next time.