Chinese New Year Celebration at Lucky Envelope Brewing! (Day 2): Things to consider when celebrating Chinese New Year

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Sixteen days (from New Year's to Lantern Festivals) will be marked in Chinese New Year. Preparations begin on New Year's Eve seven days before it. Many celebrations are traditional customs for this period, but some are very new.

The Chinese New Year is an incomparable festival. It's a week, technically, but for many people, it's like Chunjie (Spring Festival) is about forty days of celebrations, as the Lunar calendar is established, but always late January and mid-February. The journey involved was called the world’s largest annual human migration. China holds 1.4 billion people and, every year; almost three billion fans fill their hometowns around the world (18.4 percent of the world’s total population).

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Not only in mainland China and Hong Kong is the holiday celebrated. Lunar New Year is the Spring Festival for Chinese people, and it is widely celebrated in Taiwan and in countries of great Chinese communities, like Singapore and Malaysia. Lunar New Year's name is Seollal in Korea, Tet in Vietnam and Losar in Tibet.

This year is the Year of the Pig. There are 12 Zodiac signs in China, and they are taken much more seriously than the background horoscope. Some signs, such as the dragon, are desirable because dragons are seen as authoritative, strong and successful. In dragon years, couples will try to have babies. Certain symbols are said to fit together: Dog (sincere, loyal, and autonomous) and Rabbit (sensitive, modest, warm) are thought to be a good pair. If you were born between, say, February 17th, 1988 and February 5th, 1989 then you're the dragon. You're determined by year of birth–using a lunar calendar. You'd think your Zodiac year is lucky, but it's the other way round. You must still watch out for bad luck.

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When Is Chinese New Year?

In the period from 21 January to 20 February, the Chinese New Year has a different date. On Tuesday, 5 February 2019 and Saturday, 25 January 2020, Chinese New Year will fall. The first day of China's lunar calendar, the Lunar New Year, is within a new moon day before the equinox spring moon. This is strangely referred to as the Spring Festival, which is for the majority of Chinese community is winter, and also because it looks ahead to spring.

You may have heard people saying “Gong Hei Fat Choy” or a similar greeting and you are wondering what it actually means? For the record alone, Gong Hei Fat Choy is not the proper way of saying happy year of any kind as one of the most frequently said greetings. So all this time you have said gong Hei Fat Choy wrong, and now you must know how to say happy Chinese New Year really.

Happy Chinese New Year is actually -- xin nian (new year) kuai le (happy), and it’s pronounced shin nee-an kwai le.

There is a long list of things to do during the Chinese New Year. The Chinese New Year customs are observed for a number of thousands of years from one week before the festival to the 15th day later. Dinner with family, dumplings and fireworks are the best thing you know. What do the Chinese do more interestingly?

 

Here are some of the things to consider in celebrating Chinese New Year:

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RED EVERYWHERE - In celebrating Chinese New Year, you’ll definitely see “red” everywhere. Red represents prosperity and happiness in traditional and contemporary Chinese culture. It's a lucky color, so people are going to wear it in celebration, start a happy new year and keep bad vibes away. Sweatshirts, pants, scarves, socks, hats... everything is game. You should wear more red in order to buffer from misfortune if this is your year of Zodiac.

The Chinese loves red, and see red as a sign of power, good luck and happiness. Red envelopes are a way of sending you good wishes and luck (and money). The red envelopes are really important, not money inside the red paper actually. Lucky money is expected to be wrapped in red envelopes that would give receivers more joy and blessings. Therefore the person who gives it to you should open a red envelope which is unusual.

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Red envelope, spring festival couplets, the “Fu” character, Chinese knots, window paper- cuts, door Gods pictures, and New Year pictures are the most common red designs that can be seen in every Chinese homes.

DECORATIONS FOR GOOD LUCK - Walk around old neighborhoods (or in countryside) in any Chinese city and see decorated doors and windows of the people. Red paper squares are pasted diagonally with white characters like them. Spring festival couplets are made of red paper cuttings on windows, which allow passers-by to admire them, and red banners (two of them vertically and an optional third horizontally) display.

CLEANING UP - The house cleaning is a longstanding tradition of the Chinese New Year. The ground must be cleaned, the walls, and each corner of the house. “Dust" is a slang word of the Chinese word "Chen”, which means the old thing. Furthermore, a clean end of year is necessary to drive the old stuff away and to prepare for a new beginning.

NEW YEAR SHOPPING - The people are going to shop from a new piece of furniture to a new plate after cleaning. Since this is another year, Chinese people believe that they must buy a lot of new stuff. New items are the symbol of welcome and preparation for a new beginning. There are a number of foods in your shopping list. Meat, vegetables, fruit must be served, while sweeteners and nuts must be found on every Chinese household's teas table later.

FAMILY REUNION DINNER - When the festival comes near, every Chinese’s family reunion is the biggest concern. Regardless of the distance from the families, they would come home for the biggest yearly gathering. A sumptuous home-made dinner with lots of Chinese dishes with not only delectable flavor but also good looks and good connotations is served. In addition to dumplings, a whole fish is a must, representing a New Year surplus.

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EATING DUMPLINGS – Who does not love dumplings? Dumplings, which are produced with flour and filled with various fillings, are the most important food during the Chinese New Year. On New Year's Eve, the 1st and 5th days of the New Year it's a normal practice to eat these delicious dumplings. Dumplings are thought to produce wealth in the coming year because their shape is similar to the monetary ores in ancient times. In certain dumplings people wrap coins, sweets or peanuts to express different blessings, such as a coin for wealth, candy for sweet life, and longevity and healthy peanuts.

GLUTINOUS RICE BALLS - In southern China, a traditional food for the Chinese New Year is Glutinous Rice Ball, Yuanxiao, or Tangyuan in China, just like dumplings in northern China. The balls are made of adhesive rice flour filled with various fillings. Some of these rice balls have no fillings. Their circular form represents reunion, harmony and happiness. In northern China, the Glutinous Rice Balls are eaten only when family members gather and enjoy the 1st moon of a lunar year at the Lantern Festival

FIRECRACKERS & FIREWORKS - At midnight, firecrackers are always on the run. Sometimes, on the morning of the first day of the New Year, people start firecrackers also. In 2000 years ago, when people threw bamboo to the fire to remove this monster, the use of firecrackers can trace the legend about the Nian monster. Firecrackers replaced the bamboo once gunpowder had been invented. Because fires by firecrackers can be easily launched, except in designated areas, many places ban the firecrackers.

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WATCH COLORFUL LANTERNS AND SHEHUO PERFORMANCE - The festival ends with the Lantern Festival. On the evening of the 15th day of the first lunar month, lanterns in different shapes are displayed. These lanterns were made in ancient times from paper or silk with inside candles. The materials have changed now and the candles replaced them with bulbs or LEDs. Lantern fairs are held in several historic sites or monumental buildings in many cities where visitors can enjoy the beauty of traditional Chinese art.

 

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In Northern China, Shehuo is frequently included in the Lantern Festival. It is a worship form comprising shows and parades, which includes a variety of performances, like dragon and lion dances, yangko dances and stilts performance. Shehuo is a common custom in rural areas of China, but rarely seen in towns. In several small towns on the streets, the fifteenth day of the first lunar month will feature the exciting parade.

The Spring Festival is held mostly with family at home. Restaurants are closed to the public, but tucked into heaping dumplings before the New Year. You won't shoot off pop-rackets with the ban on fireworks in cities (your ears would be grateful).

Sabrina Nalo