The Year of the Rat has arrived and as we are celebrating Lunar New Year, also referred to as the Spring Festival. With festivities taking place throughout the globe, this holiday and its traditions date back hundreds of years and is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world besides Christmas. Here are some interesting facts to pique your interest during the Chinese New Year holidays.
1. Renting a boyfriend/girlfriend to take home during Chinese New Year
It can be exceedingly frustrating to get pressured from parents and extended family members during New Year to find your soul mate and get married. This is especially true in China for single Chinese people in their late 20s or early 30s who are desperate enough to get a temporary boyfriend/girlfriend.
2. Watching the same TV gala
During Chinese New Year Eve, it’s a norm for people to stay up late to watch the new year gala broadcasted by Chinese state television. While there are some political elements featured during the gala, the main focus are the traditional performances mixed in with comedy sketches and singing. As a variety show, it’s one of the most-watched programs around the world during Chinese New Year.
3. Angpows have become online
Angpows are given by parents or married relatives to the younger ones as a sign of luck. For the past couple of years, people have started using the messaging app WeChat to send Angpows instead.
4. Avoid taking medication during the Chinese New Year
It is considered a taboo for a person to consume medicine during the first day of the lunar year otherwise, he or she will likely get ill for the entire year. In most places, after the bell announcing the New Year at midnight New Year’s Day, sick people will break their medicine pots in the belief that this custom will get rid off the illness in the coming year.
5. Refrain from eating meat and porridge for breakfast
Meats should not be eaten for breakfast as respect to the gods that are against the killing of animals. Whereas porridge should not be eaten, because it is considered that only the poor eat porridge for breakfast and people are not keen on starting the new year being poor as this is a bad omen.
6.Don’t clean your clothes and wash your hair
Most people do not wash clothes and hair on the first and second day of Chinese New Year because both days are considered as the Water God’s birthday(水神, Shuishen). In Chinese, hair has the same pronunciation as fa in “fa cai” which means to become wealthy. Therefore it is considered not a good sign to wash one’s fortune away at the start of the New Year.
7. People place plants around their homes during Chinese New Year
Some plants are considered to be auspicious like oranges and mandarin trees, lucky bamboo, cherry blossoms and pussy willows. In the year of the Rat, the lucky flowers are the Kam Kuat Orange plants which symbolise gold into the home. The red or yellow colours are considered to be auspicious and attract wealth to the home.
8. The festival celebration last for 16 days till the Lantern Festival
The 16 days from Chinese New Year’s Eve until the Lantern Festival each had their special celebration activity. Family gathering and outings to watch the fireworks as well as light lanterns are a norm on the 15th day of the first lunar month, February 8th 2020.
9. Traditionally, the praying is for the harvest gods
In China, Chinese New Year was traditionally a time for people to pray to the harvest gods to ensure that their harvest would be fruitful. Today, the tradition has been replaced with praying to the ancestors during the Chinese New Year.
10. Burning bamboo sticks to ward off evil spirits
Before firecrackers were invented, people originally burned bamboo’s sticks to produce crackling sounds to send away bad spirits during the Chinese New Year’s Eve. Today, lighting firecrackers and fireworks are the main custom to celebrate the coming of the New Year and also a great way to enhance the festive atmosphere.
11. Auspicious foods are on high demand during Chinese New Year
Auspicious foods such as dumplings, fish and more are eaten during Chinese New Year mainly for their symbolic meaning. Fish is eaten because the word for fish in Chinese sounds like surplus. Whereas dumplings and spring rolls are eaten because they represent wealth. Tangyuan or also known as sweet rice balls promotes family togetherness whereas good fortune fruit and longevity noodles bring happiness, wealth and longevity.
12. The Dragon dance
Dragons are considered helpful mythical creatures in Chinese legends as they symbolise power and dignity. They are believed to be capable of chasing away bad spirits as well. During Chinese New Year celebration, the parades will feature troupes of dragon dancers travelling through the streets with the quick cadence of drums. Performers utilise poles to hoist a dragon figure up in the air in undulating movements while wending along a serpentine parade route.
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You Jing is a content writer who writes career and lifestyle contents to inspire job seekers and employers alike on their journey to work-life balance, empowerment and transformation in their career path.
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