Chinese New Year, or the Spring Festival, signals the beginning of spring, and the start of a new year according to the Chinese lunar calendar. Celebrating Chinese New Year is also believed to be significant to ensure good fortune for the coming year.
There are several reasons to celebrate Chinese New Year, but legend states that 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 to chase the beast away. This tradition has been continued until the present time and the festival serves as a time to gain good fortune.
It is also celebrated to mark the start of the Lunar New Year, and in its earliest form, it was meant for farmers and workers to have a rest from their year-long labour, and be ready to resume work, refreshed and well-rested. Today, this is not very different, with everyone enjoying a lengthy vacation to rest well, and regain power for the new year.
Here are some common traditions that are followed, and the reasons behind them:
Spring Cleaning Your House
It is traditional for families to spring clean their houses before the start of the new year. The word ‘dust’ (尘) in Chinese is a homophone for ‘old’, thus cleaning the house is symbolic of driving away the bad luck of the previous year to allow for a new start.
Decorating Your House
The tradition originated from an ancient legend where people would place red lanterns and spring couplets in their houses to drive away the nian monster, and pray for blessing and longevity. Some of the decorations include: spring festival couplets, paper cuttings, red lanterns, new year paintings, and fresh flowers.
Buying New Clothes
It is believed that wearing new clothes from head to toe symbolizes a new start and fresh hope for the New Year. One usually wears red or other brightly-colored clothes on New Year’s Day, to go with the festive and upbeat mood.
Hongbaos or red packets are given as tokens of good wishes to the younger generation, and bring good luck to the giver at the same time.
Preparing For Reunion Dinner
Chinese New Year is a great time for family reunions. Families gather together for reunion dinner on Chinese New Year’s Eve to usher in the new year with those closest to you!
Putting Out CNY Goodies
I think everyone can agree that the best part about Chinese New Year are the goodies. Traditional snacks like bak kwa, pineapple tarts and love letters and more, are not just crowd pleasers, these snacks are also symbolic of something auspicious.
We hope you found this article interesting and we wish you all 虎年大吉 (Wishing you luck in the Year of the Tiger!)