CHINESE NEW YEAR
Chinese New Year. Traditional Chinese: 農曆新年, simplified Chinese: 农历新年, pinyin: nónglì xīnnián), pinyin:nónglí xinnián, also known as the spring Festival(春节, 春節, chūnjíe), it is the most important traditional festival of the Chinese community.
The lunisolar Chinese calendar of the Han culture determines the date of Chinese New Year. It falls on the nearest new moon between the winter solstice (冬至，Dōng zhì, a date between December 21 and December 23 ) and the spring equinox (春分,Chūn fēn, a date between March 20-21) of the north hemisphere. The equidistant day between those two dates falls between February 3 and 5. A date 45 days after the winter solstice and 45 days before the spring equinox. In traditional Chinese culture this date is called Lichun,( 立春, lìchūn) a solar term marking the start of spring, which occurs about January 21 and February 21, and which is the median date of Chinese New Year's Day.
Celebrations begin the first day of the first lunar month (正月, zhēng yuè) and end fifteen days later with the Lantern Festival (元宵节, 元宵節, yuánxiāojié). These days is a time for families to be together. Wherever they are, people come home to celebrate the festival with their families. This movement of people is known as “the spring migration”( 春运, 春運, chūnyùn).
New Year's Eve is what Chinese people call “chuxi” (除夕, chúxī; chu, “spend” y xi, “eve”).
According to tales and legends, the beginning of the Chinese New Year started with a mythical beast called Nian.( Traditional:年獸, Simplified: 年兽, Pinyin: nián shòu). Nian would come on the first day of New Year to eat livestock, crops and even villagers, especially children. To protect themselves, the villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning of every year. It was believe that after Nian ate the food they prepared, it wouldn't attack any more people. One day a villager decided to get revenge of Nian. A god visited him and told him to put red paper on his house and to place firecrackers. The villagers then understood that the Nian was afraid of the red color. When the New Year was about to come, the villagers would hang red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten away the Nian. From then on, Nian never came back to the village again. The Nian was eventually captured by Hongjun Laozu, an ancient Taoist monk. The Nian became Hongjun Laozu's mount.
José L. MELERO
Gate guardians and
God of wealth
Symbolism. Traditional decorations:
- Gate guardians "Menshen"(Traditional Chinese 門神): These are statues or images that Chinese people put up in the households, hoping to have good luck and so avoiding the entrance of bad spirits in their homes.
This custom dates back to the Tang Dynasty (599-646), whose founder Emperor Tang Taizong honoured two of his most loyal generals Qin Shunbao (pale skin and armed with swords) and Yuchi Jingde (dark skin and armed with cudgels) hanging their posters on the main door of his palace. Soon this custom was adopted by all Chinese families who also hanged the posters of these generals on the main doors of their houses.
- Fu character 福 (happiness). It is displayed upside-down. The reasoning is based on a Chinese wordplay: the words for "upside-down" and "to arrive" are homophones. Therefore, the phrase an "upside-down Fú sounds nearly identical to the phrase "Happiness arrives"
- Spring Festival's couplts are called Chun Lian春联. They are golden characters written on vertical strips of red paper in the best calligraphic style. They contain messages of happiness, prosperity, wealth…..People hope these wished may be fulfilled all through the new year. The first and main line is posted on the right side of the front door. The second line is posted on the feft side of the front door. In addition, a third horizontal piece may be posted acrossand top the door.
- The fish Yu 鱼 is considered to be a lucky Chinese New Year's symbol which means abundance and a good beginning and end in the new year. People put up these red fish on their houses to frighten Nian ( old Chinese legend about a strong beast with a big head and sharp horns. It lives deep in the ocean but every New Year's Eve it goes out of the water to eat cattle and some people too.)
- God of wealth. There are different gods of wealth in China that people put up on tables or shelves. These shelves must be between 76 and 83 centimeters high and they must be placed right in front of the main door. This way, they are the first thing that people see when they enter the houses. Chinese people worship and offer them citrus fruit as well as a small cup with water or liquor. Families burn incense and hope for a better income in the new year. The final purpose is to bring “energy” or “chi” into their homes.