By Maggie Hiufu Wong | CNN
Hong Kong — At this very second, tens of millions of individuals all over the world are busy making ready for one of many yr’s largest festivals – Lunar New Yr, which marks the primary new moon of the lunar calendar.
This yr, it falls on February 10, kicking off the 15-day Spring Pageant.
Whether or not you’re unfamiliar with Lunar New Yr or want a refresher, this information will spotlight among the commonest traditions related to the event.
Why is it the Yr of the Dragon?
Although extremely advanced, the Chinese language zodiac calendar is greatest described as a 12-year cycle represented by 12 completely different animals, on this order: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Canine and Pig.
Your private zodiac animal signal is decided by your yr of beginning, that means 2024 will welcome loads of child dragons to the world. These born in 2025 might be snakes, and so forth.
Followers imagine that for every Chinese language zodiac signal, luck will rely largely on the positions of the Tai Sui – a collective identify for the stellar deities thought to rotate parallel to and in the other way of Jupiter.
Totally different geomancy masters might interpret the info in a different way, however there’s normally a consensus on what the yr means for every zodiac animal primarily based on the positions of the celebs.
Why gentle firecrackers and put on purple? Meet Nian
There are numerous folks tales connected to Lunar New Yr, however the fable of “Nian” stands out as one of the crucial enjoyable.
Legend has it Nian was a ferocious underwater beast with sharp enamel and horns. Each Lunar New Yr’s Eve, it crawled onto the land and attacked a close-by village.
On one such event, because the villagers rushed into hiding, a mysterious outdated man confirmed up and insisted on sticking round regardless of being warned of impending doom.
To the villagers’ shock, the outdated man and the village survived completely unscathed.
The person claimed to have scared Nian away by hanging purple banners on the door, lighting firecrackers and donning purple clothes.
Because of this carrying the fiery colour, together with hanging purple banners and lighting firecrackers or fireworks, are Lunar New Yr traditions, all of that are nonetheless adopted at this time.
Enjoyable apart, Lunar New Yr can really be loads of work. Festivities usually final for 15 days – typically much more – with completely different duties and actions happening over that interval.
All of it begins a few week forward of the brand new yr.
Festive muffins and puddings are made on the twenty fourth day of the final lunar month (February 3 in 2024). Why? The phrase for muffins and puddings is “gao” in Mandarin and “gou” in Cantonese, which sound the identical because the phrase for “tall.”
Consequently, consuming these treats is believed to result in enhancements and progress within the coming yr. (In the event you haven’t ready your personal “gou” but, right here’s an simple recipe for turnip cake, a beloved Lunar New Yr dish.)
And don’t neglect about our buddy Nian. No Lunar New Yr preparation can be full with out the aforementioned hanging of purple banners bearing auspicious phrases and idioms (referred to as fai chun in Cantonese, or chunlian, in Mandarin) at residence – starting with one’s entrance door.
These will carry out double responsibility – maintain Nian away and invite success.
Not all prep work is enjoyable. Based on Lunar New Yr custom, a giant cleanup ought to be carried out in properties on the twenty eighth day of the final lunar month, which falls on February 7 this yr.
The goal is to rid your house of any dangerous luck that’s gathered over the previous yr.
And don’t clear something once more until February 12, otherwise you’re washing away all that good luck that got here in firstly of the brand new yr.
On a associated be aware, some say you shouldn’t wash or reduce your hair on the primary day of the brand new yr both.
Why? The Chinese language character for hair is the primary character within the phrase for prosper. Subsequently washing or reducing it off is seen as washing your fortune away.
You’ll additionally need to keep away from buying footwear for your complete lunar month, because the time period for footwear (haai) appears like dropping and sighing in Cantonese.
(Learn extra Lunar New Yr dos and don’ts right here.)
Lunar New Yr’s Eve: The large feast
A giant household reunion dinner is normally held on Lunar New Yr’s Eve, which falls on February 9 this yr.
The menu is rigorously chosen to incorporate dishes related to luck, together with fish (the Chinese language phrase for it additionally appears like “surplus”), puddings (symbolizes development) and meals that appear to be gold ingots (like dumplings).
In China, the meals served at these basic dinners fluctuate from north to south. As an illustration, northern Chinese language are inclined to have dumplings and noodles, whereas southern Chinese language can’t reside with out steamed rice.
However regardless of which dishes you like, Lunar New Yr meals are a feast of wordplay.
Lunar New Yr’s Day: Household visits and purple packets
The primary few days of the Lunar New Yr, particularly the primary two days, are sometimes a take a look at of 1’s stamina, urge for food and social abilities, as many individuals need to journey and go to quick household, different family members and pals.
Luggage are stocked with presents and fruits to provide out at properties visited. Guests will in flip be showered with items after exchanging conversations over Lunar New Yr treats.
Married folks even have to provide out purple packets to those that haven’t but tied the knot – each youngsters and single juniors.
It’s believed these envelopes – referred to as hongbao/lai see – might shield youngsters by avoiding evil spirits referred to as sui.
Day 3: Go to a temple
Day three of the Lunar New Yr (which falls on February 12 in 2024) is known as “chi kou/cek hau,” or purple mouth.
It’s believed that arguments usually tend to occur on at the present time, so folks will keep away from social interactions and as a substitute go to temples.
Whereas there, some will use the chance to make choices to offset any potential dangerous luck. As famous earlier, for many individuals Lunar New Yr is a time to seek the advice of the celebs to seek out out what lies forward within the coming months.
Yearly, sure Chinese language zodiac indicators conflict with the celebs negatively so temple visits are thought of a great way to resolve these conflicts and convey peace within the coming months.
Day 7: The folks’s birthday
The seventh day of the Lunar New Yr (February 16 in 2024) is alleged to be when the Chinese language mom goddess, Nuwa, created humanity. Thus, it’s referred to as renri/jan jat (the folks’s birthday).
Totally different communities in Asia will serve varied birthday meals on that day.
As an illustration, folks in Malaysia get pleasure from yeesang, or a “Prosperity Toss” of uncooked fish and shredded greens, whereas Cantonese folks eat candy rice balls.
Day 15: The Lantern Pageant
The spotlight of the entire Spring Pageant, the Lantern Pageant occurs on the fifteenth and last day (February 24 in 2024).
Referred to as Yuan Xiao Jie in Mandarin Chinese language, it’s thought of the proper ending to the weeks-long Lunar New Yr preparations and celebrations.
The Lantern Pageant celebrates the primary full moon of the yr – therefore the identify (Yuan means starting. Xiao means night time).
It marks the departure of winter and the start of the spring season.
On at the present time, folks gentle lanterns to represent driving out darkness and bringing hope to the approaching yr.
In historic Chinese language society, it was the one day when younger ladies have been allowed to exit to admire the lanterns and meet boys. Consequently, it’s additionally been dubbed Chinese language Valentine’s Day.
These days, cities worldwide nonetheless placed on huge lantern shows and festivals on the competition’s last day. Some Chinese language cities, resembling Chengdu, even host dramatic hearth dragon dances.
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