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Chinese New Year Celebration

Origins of Chinese New Year Celebration

Ask one of your Chinese friends, "when is Chinese New Year "?  Do not be surprised if the answer is, "I don't know".

What makes it complicated is that the Chinese New Year is based on the Chinese lunar calendar.  In this calendar, a new moon is the beginning of a month and the middle of the month is marked by a full moon.  The simple answer is that Chinese New Year is the first day and the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar.  When you try to synchronize it to the western calendar, it falls somewhere towards the middle of January or the middle of February.  It is differs from year to year.

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Chinese New Year Celebration Timing

Chinese New Year Celebration originated in China four thousand years ago during the Han Dynasty.  As an agricultural nation, Chinese farmers thought that spring was the beginning of a new year.  They cleared their land, cleaned their houses and prayed for a new beginning and an abundant harvest.  

According to legend, a monster called Nian appeared the night before the New Year to prey on humans.  To save the humans, a god in the form of an old man dressed in a red outfit scared the monster away with the loud crackling sound of burning bamboo.   The Chinese captured the essence of this legend by painting  their doors red and set off fire crackers during the Chinese New Year celebration to replicate the scaring away of Nian, the monster.

In modern times, Chinese New Year celebration is as intensive as the Christmas holiday season in the western world.  The Chinese follow a tradition of preparing for the Chinese New Year with gift giving and family reunions as key elements of the holiday.  The Chinese New Year celebration lasts fifteen days.

The Chinese wish each other Happy New Year by saying, Gung Hay Fat Choi.  Literally it means, “wishing you happiness and good fortune”. Once the greetings are conveyed, there are numerous rituals that the Chinese go through during the Chinese New Year celebrations.

The rituals of the Chinese New Year celebration take place not only in China but also in many metropolitan centers around the world with a concentration of Chinese population.  Although some of these rituals seem strange at times, understanding the their background and history is vital to getting acquainted with Chinese tradition.

Chinese New Year Celebration Rituals