The Chinese New Year 2019 begins on Tuesday, February 5 and ends Saturday, the 24th of January 2020.
The most important New Year custom is for married couples to give lucky money called ‘lay-see’ to unmarried relatives, especially children. ‘Lay-see’ is a red packet containing ‘lucky money’ which people believe will bring luck to both the receiver and giver. Older family members must also give lucky money to all those who are younger in the family, including those who are married. Kung hei fat choy!
Full Moon Chinese New Year
The Chinese Ancestors
The first day of Chinese New Year starts with the new moon, and the last day known as Lantern festival, celebrated with night lantern displays, ends 15 days later on the full moon. New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve are celebrated with family. Traditionally, family celebrations were religious affairs, given in honor of the household and ancestors.
The most important religious ritual, was the sacrifice to the ancestors. Loved ones, dearly departed are remembered with greatest respect, as they are responsible for the present and future good family fortune.
The family celebration on New Year’s Eve is known as the “surrounding the stove” or weilu. This comprises of a dinner arranged for the spirits of the ancestors, together with the living and represents past and present, and one strong community.
The 15 days of Lunar New Year
- Day one – February 5, 2019 The first day of the Earth Pig lunar New Year . The gods of heaven and earth are welcomed and meat is avoided to promote longevity and happiness.
- Day two : Prayers are sent to the gods and ancestors. Pigs receive extra kindness and are well fed; today is the birthday of all pigs.
- Day three and four: Son-in-laws pay respect to their bride’s parents.
- Day five: Named Po Woo, this day is spent at home to welcome the God of Wealth. It is bad luck to visit anyone on this day.
- Days six to ten: The Chinese are now free to visit their loved ones, and pray for good fortune in the temples.
- Day seven: The birthday of all humans celebrated with a drink made by the farmers from seven types of vegetable. Raw fish is eaten to promote success, and noodles for longevity.
- Day eight: Prayers are sent at midnight from the Fujian people, to Tian Gong, the God of Heaven.
- Day nine: Offerings are made to the jade Emperor.
- Days 10 to 12: Invites are sent to friends and relatives, to visit for dinner.
- Day 13: Simple foods are eaten so as to detox after rich foods at friends and relatives.
- Day 14: Time is taken for preparation for the Lantern Festival celebration on the 15th night.
- Day 15: Jai, a vegetarian dish is enjoyed by the family.
The preparations start one month prior when people buy presents, materials for decorations, food and clothes. Also then starts the house cleaning to chase away bad luck, and the doors and windows are being repainted, usually in red. These are then decorated with red paper strips (Chun Lian) with different wishes of happiness, prosperity and long life written on them.
Before New Year, the Chinese decorate their living rooms with flower vases, plates full of oranges and tangerines (symbolizing great happiness) and a tray with sweets with eight kinds of dry fruit. On the walls and at the doors, they place red paper strips (Chun Lian), on which they write greetings as: “May you enjoy a perpetual health” or “The Star of Happiness, the Star of Health and the Star of Longevity may shine upon you”.
Lucky Foods to Eat During Spring Festival 2019
Food plays an important role during the Spring Festival. Many kinds of food cooked for this occasion are being served because they are considered symbols of luck. For example, the fish (yu) represents “to have enough to also give others”, garlic (chiu-tsai) means “what lasts”, turnips (tsai tou) refer to “good premonitions”, while fish balls (yu-wan) and meatballs (jou-wan) represent “reunion”.
Oranges and pomegranates: One of the most known symbols of the Chinese New Year is the orange and it represents luck. Pomegranate, on the other hand, is treasured for its many seeds, which symbolize fertility, but also for its red color that has the power to keep evil spirits at bay.
The Chinese also serve a whole fish that symbolizes abundance, and a chicken for gaining prosperity. The chicken must have the head, tail and feet still attached, connoting wholeness, perfection. The noodles must not be cut, because they symbolize long life.
The huge quantity of food served during this period is meant to symbolize the abundance and wealth of the house where they are being served. The most appreciated though is the food vividly colored in red, orange, green and gold.
Jai Traditional Vegetarian Dish
Traditionally eaten on New Year’s Day, Jai consists of root or fibrous vegetables. The ingredients consist of foods that represent good fortune. Jai will include lotus seed, representing the hope for many male offspring, ginko nut, representing silver, black moss seaweed, the hope for wealth, dried bean curd, wealth and happiness and bamboo shoots for good wishes for everything. White is an unlucky colour for New Year, therefore any white foods such as tofu is avoided.
Here is a list of the most important drinks, loved by those who celebrate this important event:
- Wine (Putaojiu) and Baijiu (ad litteram, white wine), which is a strong and clear alcoholic drink;
- Tusu Wine: The Emperor’s First Drink ;
- The tea ritual starts in the first morning of the Chinese Earth Pig Year of 2019 , when all members of the family will drink a cup of tea.
- Other popular drinks are: Mijiu (rice wine with strips), Fujian Old Wine (Fujian), Fujian Noi Jeou – rice sticky wine (fujian nuomi ji?), but also Tsingtao bear.
Lunar New Year traditions
All debts must be paid by New Year’s Day. Nothing should be lent on this day – anyone who does so will be lending all the year.
One should not use bad language, unlucky words, negative terms and the word ‘four’, which sounds like the word for death.
Death and dying are never mentioned and ghost stories are totally taboo.
References to the past year are avoided as everything should be turned toward the New Year and a new beginning.
It is believed that if you shouldn’t cry as to cry on New Year’s day means the coming year will be sorrowful. For this reason children are not told off on this day.
On New Year’s Day, you are not supposed to wash your hair or clean the house, for fear that good luck will be washed and swept away.
Shooting off firecrackers is the Chinese way of sending out the old year and welcoming the New Year.
On the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve, every door in the house, including windows, must be opened to allow the old year to go out.
The Dragon Dance is an ancient traditional Chinese dance, usually performed during big holidays, in hope of attracting peace and prosperity for the whole nation. As millions of Chinese people stated to emigrate abroad, the tradition of this dance has become common in many countries: Taiwan, Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, but also Europe, Australia, New Zeeland, America, Canada, especially in the areas with a big Chinese community. In time, the Dragon Dance became a symbol of the Chinese culture.