2015 is the year of the Wood Sheep. We will be doing another blog post later this month specifically about what that means, but for today we will focus on Chinese New Year traditions.
Chinese New Year is the biggest celebration of the year in Chinese culture and there are many traditions to herald in the New Year. Here are some helpful tips to help you celebrate the New Year in Chinese style and encourage good luck in the new year:
Known as Hong Bao, red envelopes containing money are the most ubiquitous gift of the Chinese New Year. Mostly given by older relatives to younger children (although often employers give employees bonuses in red envelopes, among other exceptions), it is believed that the envelopes will bring health and good luck to the persons who receive them.
One of the most important traditions in the lead up to New Years is the thorough cleaning that is done in the days before New Years. It is thought that by thoroughly cleaning the house, the bad luck and misfortunes of the past year will literally be swept away, providing room for the new good luck to come in. Cleaning is to be avoided on actual New Years, to prevent any incoming good luck from being swept away.
After thoroughly cleaning the home, it is decorated for New Years, as most often families will gather together in the home to eat, drink, and entertain themselves, rather than going out to a restaurant. The most common decorations include banners, lanterns, and charms to ward off evil spirits, all in red of course.
New Years dinner is the most important meal in the year. This is often a reunion dinner, as people will travel the country to reunite with family at home. The movement of people during Chinese New year is considered to be the largest annual human migration on the planet, with over 2 billion trips made during the New Year period.
The Colour Red
Red is the colour of Chinese New Year. Red is considered the luckiest colour. It wards off evil and brings good luck. Red is commonly worn on New Years, including red socks and underwear for those who do not want to wear red on the outside. Decorations, fireworks, clothing, envelopes...red is everywhere!
The lighting of fireworks, as well as fires, is commonly thought to ward off bad spirits and bad luck that come after New Years to threaten people and their property. These bad entities are kept at bay by fire, loud noises, and the colour red.
The most common gift to give during Chinese New Year is Hong Bao; however, gifts of fruit, baked goods, alcohol, sweets and desserts, candles, charms, and trinkets are also appropriate. What is not appropriate as gifts are clocks or watches (signifying the end of time and death), umbrellas, handkerchiefs, or shoes (signifying the parting of friends or lovers) or knives or scissors (also signifying the severing of ties), anything in pairs of four (unluckiest of numbers), or cut flowers (usually given for funerals).
Happy Chinese New Year from the Xiaolan Health Centre and we would like to wish you all the best for a healthy and prosperous New Year!