CHINESE NEW YEAR
Chinese New Year or Spring Festival is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. It is often called the Lunar New Year, especially by people in mainland China and Taiwan. The festival traditionally begins on the first day of the first month (Chinese: 正月; pinyin: zhēng yuè) in the Chinese calendar and ends on the 15th; this day is called Lantern Festival. Chinese New Year's Eve is known as Chúxī. It literally means "Year-pass Eve".
Chinese New Year is the longest and most important festivity in the Lunar Calendar. The origin of Chinese New Year is itself centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Ancient Chinese New Year is a reflection on how the people behaved and what they believed in the most.
Celebrated in areas with large populations of ethnic Chinese, Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had influence on the new year celebrations of its geographic neighbours, as well as cultures with whom the Chinese have had extensive interaction. These include Koreans, Mongolians, Nepalese, Bhutanese, Vietnamese, and formerly the Japanese before 1873. Outside of Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, Chinese New Year is also celebrated in countries with significant Han Chinese populations, such as Singapore, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand. In Canada, although Chinese New Year is not an official holiday, many ethnic Chinese hold large celebrations and Canada Post issues New Year's themed stamps in domestic and international rates.
Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese New Year vary widely. People will pour out their money to buy presents, decoration, material, food, and clothing. It is also the tradition that every family thoroughly cleans the house to sweep away any ill-fortune in hopes to make way for good incoming luck. Windows and doors will be decorated with red color paper-cuts and couplets with popular themes of “happiness”, “wealth”, and “longevity”.
On the Eve of Chinese New Year, supper is a feast with families. Food will range from pigs, to ducks, to chicken and sweet delicacies. The family will end the night with firecrackers. Early the next morning, children will greet their parents by wishing them a healthy and happy new year, and receive money in red paper envelopes. The Chinese New Year tradition is a great way to reconcile forgetting all grudges, and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone.
Although the Chinese calendar traditionally does not use continuously numbered years, its years are often numbered from the reign of Huangdi outside China. But at least three different years numbered 1 are now used by various scholars, making the year 2009 "Chinese Year" 4707, 4706, or 4646.
Animal Branch Dates
子 Zi February 19, 1996 February 7, 2008
丑 Chou February 7, 1997 January 26, 2009
寅 Yin January 28, 1998 February 14, 2010
卯 Mao February 16, 1999 February 3, 2011
辰 Chen February 5, 2000 January 23, 2012
巳 Si January 24, 2001 February 10, 2013
午 Wu February 12, 2002 January 31, 2014
未 Wei February 1, 2003 February 19, 2015
申 Shen January 22, 2004 February 8, 2016
酉 You February 9, 2005 January 28, 2017
戌 Xu January 29, 2006 February 16, 2018
亥 Hai February 18, 2007 February 5, 2019
The lunisolar Chinese calendar determines Chinese New Year dates. The calendar is also used in countries that have adopted or have been influenced by Han culture (notably the Koreans, Japanese and Vietnamese) and may have a common ancestry with the similar New Years festivals outside East Asia (such as Iran, and historically, the Bulgars lands).
In the Gregorian calendar, Chinese New Year falls on different dates each year, a date between January 21 and February 20. In the Chinese calendar, winter solstice must occur in the 11th month, which means that Chinese New Year usually falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice (rarely the third if an intercalary month intervenes). In traditional Chinese Culture, lichun is a solar term marking the start of spring, which occurs about February 4.
The dates for Chinese New Year from 1996 to 2019 (in the Gregorian calendar) are at the left, along with the year's presiding animal zodiac and its earthly branch. The names of the earthly branches have no English counterparts and are not the Chinese translations of the animals. Alongside the 12-year cycle of the animal zodiac there is a 10-year cycle of heavenly stems. Each of the ten heavenly stems is associated with one of the five elements of Chinese astrology, namely: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. The elements are rotated every two years while a yin and yang association alternates every year. The elements are thus distinguished: Yang Wood, Yin Wood, Yang Fire, Yin Fire, etc. These produce a combined cycle that repeats every 60 years. For example, the year of the Yang Fire Rat occurred in 1936 and in 1996, 60 years apart.
Many confuse their Chinese birth-year with their Gregorian birth-year. As the Chinese New Year starts in late January to mid-February, the Chinese year dates from January 1 until that day in the new Gregorian year remain unchanged from the previous Gregorian year. For example, the 1989 year of the snake began on February 6, 1989. The year 1990 is considered by some people to be the year of the horse. However, the 1989 year of the snake officially ended on January 26, 1990. This means that anyone born from January 1 to January 25, 1990 was actually born in the year of the snake rather than the year of the horse. Many online Chinese Sign calculators do not account for the non-alignment of the two calendars, using Gregorian-calendar years rather than official Chinese New Year dates.
One scheme of continuously numbered Chinese-calendar years assigns 4706 to the year beginning January 26, 2009, but this is not universally accepted; the calendar is traditionally cyclical, not continuously numbered.
Hand-painted Chinese New Year's poetry pasted on the sides of doors leading to people's homes, Lijiang, Yunnan, PRC.
According to tales and legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called the Nian or "Year" in Chinese. Nian would come on the first day of New Year to devour 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 believed that after the Nian ate the food they prepared, it wouldn’t attack any more people. One time, people saw that the Nian was scared away by a little child wearing red. The villagers then understood that the Nian was afraid of the color red. Hence, every time 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, the Nian never came to the village again. The Nian was eventually captured by Hongjun Laozu, an ancient Taoist monk. The Nian became Hongjun Laozu's mount.
Chinese New Year is observed as a public holiday in a number of countries and territories where a sizable Chinese population resides. Since Chinese New Year falls on different dates on the Gregorian calendar every year on different days of the week, some of these governments opt to shift working days in order to accommodate a longer public holiday. Also like many other countries in the world, a statutory holiday is added on the following work day when the New Year falls on a weekend.
On the days before the New Year celebration Chinese families give their home a thorough cleaning. There is a Cantonese saying "Wash away the dirt on ninyabaat" (年廿八，洗邋遢), but the practice is not usually restricted on nin'ya'baat (年廿八, the 28th day of month 12). It is believed the cleaning sweeps away the bad luck of the preceding year and makes their homes ready for good luck. Brooms and dust pans are put away on the first day so that luck cannot be swept away. Some people give their homes, doors and window-frames a new coat of red paint. Homes are often decorated with paper cutouts of Chinese auspicious phrases and couplets. Purchasing new clothing, shoes, and receiving a hair-cut also symbolize a fresh start.
In many households where Buddhism or Taoism is prevalent, home altars and statues are cleaned thoroughly, and altars that were adorned with decorations from the previous year are also taken down and burned a week before the new year starts, and replaced with new decorations. Taoists (and Buddhists to a lesser extent) will also "send gods" (送神), an example would be burning a paper effigy of the Kitchen God, the recorder of family functions. This is done so that the kitchen god can report to the Jade Emperor of the family household's transgressions and good deeds. Families often offer sweet foods (such as candy) in order to "bribe" the deities into reporting good things about the family.
The biggest event of any Chinese New Year's Eve is the dinner every family will have. A dish consisting of fish will appear on the tables of Chinese families. It is for display for the New Year's Eve dinner. This meal is comparable to Christmas dinner in the West. In northern China, it is customary to make dumplings (jiaozi 饺子) after dinner and have it around midnight. Dumplings symbolize wealth because their shape is like a Chinese tael. By contrast, in the South, it is customary to make a new year cake (Niangao, 年糕) after dinner and send pieces of it as gifts to relatives and friends in the coming days of the new year. Niangao literally means increasingly prosperous year in year out. After the dinner, some families go to local temples, hours before the new year begins to pray for a prosperous new year; however in modern practice, many households hold parties and even hold a countdown to the new lunar year. Beginning in the 1980s, the CCTV New Year's Gala was broadcast four hours before the start of the New Year.
The first day is for the welcoming of the deities of the heavens and earth, officially beginning at midnight. Many people, especially Buddhists, abstain from meat consumption on the first day because it is believed that this will ensure longevity for them. Some consider lighting fires and using knives to be bad luck on New Year's Day, so all food to be consumed is cooked the day before.
Most importantly, the first day of Chinese New Year is a time when families visit the oldest and most senior members of their extended family, usually their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents.
Some families may invite a lion dance troupe as a symbolic ritual to usher in the Lunar New Year as well as to evict bad spirits from the premises. Members of the family who are married also give red packets containing cash to junior members of the family, mostly children and teenagers.
While fireworks and firecrackers are traditionally very popular, some regions have banned them due to concerns over fire hazards, which have resulted in increased number of fires around New Years and challenged municipal fire departments' work capacity. For this reason, various city governments (e.g., Hong Kong, and Beijing, for a number of years) issued bans over fireworks and firecrackers in certain premises of the city. As a substitute, large-scale fireworks have been launched by governments in cities like Hong Kong to offer citizens the experience.
Incense is burned at the graves of ancestors as part of the offering and prayer ritual. The second day of the Chinese New Year is for married daughters to visit their birth parents. Traditionally, daughters who have been married may not have the opportunity to visit their birth families frequently.
On the second day, the Chinese pray to their ancestors as well as to all the gods. They are extra kind to dogs and feed them well as it is believed that the second day is the birthday of all dogs. Business people of the Cantonese dialect group will hold a 'Hoi Nin' prayer to start their business on the 2nd day of Chinese New Year. The prayer is done to pray that they will be blessed with good luck and prosperity in their business for the year.
Third and fourth days
The third and fourth day of the Chinese New Year are generally accepted as inappropriate days to visit relatives and friends due to the following schools of thought. People may subscribe to one or both thoughts.
1) It is known as "chì kǒu" (赤口), meaning that it is easy to get into arguments. It is suggested that the cause could be the fried food and visiting during the first two days of the New Year celebration.
2) Families who had an immediate kin deceased in the past 3 years will not go house-visiting as a form of respect to the dead, but people may visit them on this day. Some people then conclude that it is inauspicious to do any house visiting at all. The third day of the New Year is allocated to grave-visiting instead.
In northern China, people eat Jiǎozi (simplified Chinese: 饺子; traditional Chinese: 餃子), or dumplings on the morning of Po Wu (破五). This is also the birthday of the Chinese god of wealth. In Taiwan, businesses traditionally re-open on this day, accompanied by firecrackers.
The seventh day, traditionally known as renri 人日, the common man's birthday, the day when everyone grows one year older. It is the day when tossed raw fish salad, yusheng, is eaten. This is a custom primarily among the overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia, such as Malaysia and Singapore. People get together to toss the colourful salad and make wishes for continued wealth and prosperity.
For many Chinese Buddhists, this is another day to avoid meat. Chinese New Year's celebrations, on the eighth day, in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, British Columbia, Canada.
Another family dinner to celebrate is the God of Heaven known as Tian Gong. However, everybody should be back to work by the 8th day. All of government agencies and business will stop celebrating on the eighth day.
The ninth day of the New Year is a day for Chinese to offer prayers to the Jade Emperor of Heaven (天公) in the Taoist Pantheon. The ninth day is traditionally the birthday of the Jade Emperor. This day is especially important to Hokkiens. Come midnight of the eighth day of the new year, Hokkiens will offer thanks giving prayers to the Emperor of Heaven. Offerings will include sugarcane as it was the sugarcane that had protected the Hokkiens from certain extermination generations ago. Incense, tea, fruit, vegetarian food or roast pig, and paper gold is served as a customary protocol for paying respect to an honored person.
The Jade Emperor's birthday. On the 13th day people will eat "Choi Sum (veggie)" to clean out their stomach due to consuming too much food over the last two weeks.
This day is dedicated to the General Guan Yu, also known as the Chinese God of War. Guan Yu was born in the Han dynasty and is consider the greatest general in Chinese history. He represents loyal, strength, truth, and justice. According to history, he was tricked by the enemy and was beheaded. Almost every organization and business in China will pray to Guan Yu on this day. Before his life ended, Guan Yu had won over one hundred battles and that is a goal that all businesses in China want to accomplish. In a way, people look at him as the God of Wealth or the God of Success.
The fifteenth day of the new year is celebrated as Yuánxiāo jié (元宵节), otherwise known as Chap Goh Mei in Fujian dialect. Rice dumplings Tangyuan (simplified Chinese: 汤圆; traditional Chinese: 湯圓; pinyin: tāngyuán), a sweet glutinous rice ball brewed in a soup, is eaten this day. Candles are lit outside houses as a way to guide wayward spirits home. This day is celebrated as the Lantern Festival, and families walk the street carrying lighted lanterns. This day often marks the end of the Chinese New Year festivities.
(Sumber: Wikipedia Pendidikan - Tahun Baharu Cina)