8 Reasons to Celebrate Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is right around the corner, complete with two weeks of celebrations observed by people across the world. Since 8 is a lucky number, here are eight great reasons to embrace the holiday.
Skip cleaning for nearly a week
In the weeks leading up to the start of Chinese New Year, people clean their houses in preparation of visitors. On New Year's Eve, they put away all the brooms, brushes, dusters, dust pans, and other cleaning equipment because sweeping or dusting on New Year's Day might sweep good fortune away. Starting with day five of the new year, they collect the dust and dirt that has accumulated and take it out the back door.
Redecorate with meaningful quotes and tons of flowers
As they clean their homes prior to New Year's Day, Chinese families decorate their living rooms with arrangements of flowers and trays of oranges or tangerines. They write poems and well wishes on red pieces of paper and hang them on the walls to bring good luck. The Chinese believe that blooming plants symbolize rebirth, and if a plant blossoms on New Year's Day, the coming year will be prosperous.
Gorge on candy and treats
Throughout the 15 day celebration, there are various feasts with family and friends. To welcome guests, people set out a traditional candy tray called the tray of togetherness. It is typically arranged in either a circle or octagon and has eight (lucky) compartments filled with candies and treats that represent different blessings to help start the new year sweetly.
Spend time feasting with family
Every year around this time, millions of Chinese travel home to be with their families for the two week-long festival. New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are family affairs, seen as a time of reunion and thanksgiving. Families hold a feast where the spirits of family ancestors celebrate the coming new year together with the living. At this feast, families set a place for ancestors at the feast in order to honor generations past and present.
Usher in a new year with fireworks
Legend states that the Chinese New Year stemmed from an ancient battle against the Nian, a terrifying beast that attacked people and ate children. The people used fireworks and firecrackers as weapons against the Nian, which was frightened by the fire and noise and left the people alone. Nian is also the Chinese word for year, so people celebrate the passing of the year (or the beast) by setting off fireworks.
Get a pass on New Year's Day
The Chinese believe that what you do on New Year's Day will set precedence for the entire year. People avoid telling ghost stories, talking about death, or using foul language and unlucky words. Speaking about the past is also generally avoided, as it is a time to look forward to a new year and a new beginning. This is good news for children though - because the Chinese believe that crying on New Year's Day will lead to crying all year long, many mischievous kids get a one-day pass and avoid punishment.
Collect envelopes of money
When visiting family and friends, people give out lai see, a small red envelope containing money. These envelopes represent good fortune.
Watch prancing dragons on parade
After two weeks of family, feasting, and festivities, the Chinese New Year celebration ends during the full moon with the Lantern Festival. People celebrate at night with parades and colorful lantern displays. During the parade, typically held in many Chinatown areas in major metropolitan areas around the globe, people can watch the ornate dancing dragon that snakes its way through the streets on the backs of dancers.
Now you have several reasons to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Go out there and gather good fortune, and wish everyone you see gong xi fa cai!