Today marks the first day of the year in the Chinese calendar.
For those of you who may not be so familiar with what Chinese New Year (CNY) is all about. Allow me to shed some light into the festivities as someone who celebrates the festival.
- An animal a year: The Chinese believe that each year is ruled by an animal, these animals are also further influenced by 5 elements present each year. There are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, which are rotated each year. The year 2016 is said as the year of the monkey. Being born in a certain year can bring influences on your personality traits, luck for the new year, relationships, compatibility, etc etc… To read more about Chinese horoscopes , go here.
- Symbolisms: Chinese are all about symbols, we believe that symbols are a catalyst to improve your life in this earth. Among some of the favourite symbols for the new year is the Pineapple, the colour red, mandarin oranges and lanterns. These also symbolises good luck and prosperity for the new year.
- The Lion Dance: This is a dance done by performers who are dressed in lions ‘clothing’. If you have not seen a lion dance before, check it out here. Yes, it is loud, and it takes alot of practice by professionals. These dances are usually booked beforehand, and the cost of it is around 1,000 ringgit malaysia. But the meaning behind the lion dance is this: Lions are supposed to be fierce creatures, and if they ‘dance’ around your house or offices, they have the ability to ward off all evil intentions, thus bringing luck and prosperity to you. During the dance, somebody (usually a prominent person in the family or office) must give the lion a mandarin orange as a sign of goodwill, these orange will be blessed by the lion (cue cute happy lion dance, because even lions love food!
- The Reunion Dinner: Ah yes, my favourite part of CNY. This is done during the eve of new year, and it is where all relatives come together to usher in the new year with family. It is a time of reconnecting with family members and to just spend quality time together. This is usually hosted in the eldest or head of the family’s house, as a sign of respect. Usually, there is LOADS of yummy food, gambling, and firecrackers. For my family, there’s also alcohol.
- Ang-Pao’s: So ang-pao’s are usually small red-packets given to the young and unmarried members of the family, by older, married members of the family. It is a sign of good luck and trust conveyed by the older members, and also a reminder of respect to the younger ones. It is crucial to take the ang-pao’s with two hands and always say ‘thank you’. Usually the giving of ang pao’s will be given with some word of advice by the older members of the family.
What I love about Chinese New Year: To me, it is a wonderful symbolic festivities, and it focuses on hope, family and unity. It comes with a wonderful mindset for the new year, which is what every other culture also practices. All I can say is that I am a big fan of cultures, all kinds of cultures, and I am really grateful to be a part of this one.
For all those celebrating this festivities, Happy Chinese New Year, for those who aren’t, lets be reminded of what it is to have hope, and family in our lives.