The Chinese New Year is the most important festival for the Chinese and this year, it falls on the 28th of January. It is also known as the Lunar New Year and is the actual New year for the Chinese according to their zodiac calendar. Let us find out what is Chinese New Year and see how it is celebrated across the world. You can also participate in the 2017 Chinese New Year cooking competition for your chance to win a trip to Thailand.
Legend has it that the Chinese New Year celebrations started with the fight against a mythical beast called Nian, which when translated means ‘Year’. This beast, who looked like an ox with the head of a lion, lived in the sea and was said to come out and harm people, animals, and proprieties on New Year’s Eve. People eventually discovered that the Nian was afraid of the colour red. He was also terrified of fire and loud noises. People then began to put red paper symbols in front of the house. They also set off some fireworks and lit red lanterns. These measures drove the beast away, and its disappearance gave rise to many celebrations which collectively came to be known as the Chinese New Year.
According to Chinese astrology, each year is associated with an animal sign, occurring in a 12-year cycle. 2015 is the Year of the Monkey. Occupying the ninth position in the Chinese Zodiac. The monkey is a clever animal and symbolises smartness, witty, intelligent and seem to be mischievousness, curious and clever.
China is not the only country that celebrates Chinese New Year. It is also celebrate din other countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Japan and Thailand. They welcome the New Year with great fervour and add a touch of local customs to give it a traditional cheer. The traditional lion and dragon dance performances, parades, flower displays and food all of these festivities are a part of Chinese New Year that usher in good luck and well being.
In China, the celebrations involve eating reunion dinner with family, giving red envelopes (with cash) as gifts, firecrackers, new clothes, and decorations.
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In Malaysia Chinese New year is an annual celebration marking the start of the year according to the Chinese lunisolar calendar. Like in China, poeple in Malaysia also have a reunion dinner and spend time with thier family. In Malaysia, a dish called yee sang or Yusheng is served first. The tradition of tossing the Yusheng is known to bring in good luck.
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The New year in Korea falls on the same day as that of Chinese New Year and is known as Seolnal/Seollal. Seollal and Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) are the two major holidays in which South Koreans gather as families to celebrate. During this time, families pay pay homage to their ancestors and catch up with distant family members who travel from different parts of the world. New Year delicacies such as, Tteokguk (soup with sliced rice cakes), a traditional Korean food is eaten for the New Year. Yet another dish is the Jeon, sometimes called Buchimgae, a traditional Korean (pancake) dish especially eaten on the Korean New Year’s Day.
Image courtesy: Republic of Korea used under creative commons licence
In Vietnam, the New Year is celebrated on the same day as that of Chinese New year. Known as Tet, it is celebrated with the customary decorations and reunion dinner in Vietnamee families while also paying respects to their ancestors. However, in big cities like Ho Chi Minh the parks and malls are specially decorated with flowers and lights with varied motifs. Special Tet dishes, such as Banh Tet, a cake made from rice and filled with beans or meat are made duirng this festival. Although Tết is a national holiday among all Vietnamese, each region and religion has its own customs.
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In Japan, the New year is observed and celebrated in January. Japanese eat traditional food such as osechi-ryōri, which consists of boiled seaweed, fish cakes, mashed sweet potato and sweetened black soybeans. They also make the traditional dessert Mochi made with rice flour and sugar. Ringing the bell during midnight at Buddhist temples is another ritual that the Japanese follow. It is believed that ringing it 108 times is known to rid the humans of their sin and the worldly desires.
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