February 1, 2013
Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy Chinese New Year 2013
Gong Xi Fa Cai!
That’s the traditional Chinese New Year greeting that means “wishing you prosperity” in Mandarin. The first day of the Chinese New Year – which begins at midnight on February 10, 2013 – is the most important of Chinese holidays, celebrated by billions in China, and by millions of ethnic Chinese around the world. It’s a celebration that lasts for 15 days, culminating with the Lantern Festival. Each year is associated with one of twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac. For 2013, it’s the Year of the Snake.
Each year of the Chinese lunar calendar is represented by one of twelve animal symbols of the Chinese zodiac: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Boar. For 2013, it’s the year of Water/Black Snake. Unity, travel, movement, and friendship are the themes for the Year of the Snake. Snake can expect good fortune in relationships and look forward to a time when they personally or professionally shine. It will be a year when Snake can easily overcome recent setbacks or obstacles experienced in 2012. Even though Snake may not have the income desired in the first half year, financial fortune comes in the second half year.
How is Chinese New Year observed?
The Chinese people have a lot of beliefs that are followed during the Chinese New Year.
- Houses should be cleaned and tidied days before the Chinese New Year. This is symbolism of cleaning away the bad fortune that the past year had left in their households.
- Clothes worn when welcoming the New Year should be neat and tidy or new. This symbolizes a fresh new start for the people.
- Arguments and conflicts must be over and must be worked out. They believe that starting the New Year with fighting will bring bad fortune for the rest of the year.
- When welcoming the New Year, there should be firecrackers to shoo away evil spirits.
- Exchanging Chinese New Year cards and greetings.
Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally lasts 15 days, from the first day (during a new moon) to the 15th day (a full moon). Each day holds a special significance that varies according to local traditions. But first, before the arrival of the new year, homes are thoroughly cleaned to sweep away ill fortune, and to welcome good luck. On new year’s eve, there are family gatherings to celebrate and enjoy sumptuous traditional feasts, and to greet the new year with fireworks at midnight.
In the days that follow, festive dance parades are held featuring colorful dragons or lions, ceremonies are held to pay homage to deities and ancestors, children receive money in red envelopes, gifts are exchanged, extended family members visit each other, and there’s more traditional feasting.
The celebration culminates on the 15th day with the Lantern festival; on this night of the full moon, families mingle in thetreets carrying lighted lanterns, often creating a beautiful light display.