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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Happy Chinese New Year!

Customs for Chinese New Year

  • In preparation for the New Year the house is cleaned. This is getting rid of the old, and bringing in the new. No cleaning is done New Years Day, since this may sweep away the luck of the New Year since luck is arrives with the New Year.
  • The Chinese New Year Eve has a huge feast where all the family gathers. In Taiwan and China, it's a couple of day holiday so forget doing any business those days. Fish is a favorite dish symbolizing prosperity. Dumplings, since they look like gold nuggets is a symbol of prosperity.Chinese restaurants do a great business this day in the US.
  • Oranges are for wealth, and tangerines are for good luck, so there will often be a stack of them. Red Apples are also a good luck symbol. Plum Blossoms are a symbol of Spring because they bloom then
  • Red Envelopes are given using new money. In the US a favorite is to use $2 bills (yes they do exist). 2, 6, and 8 are considered to be lucky numbers. 4 is avoided, since it's an unlucky number. Red is considered a lucky color and is worn this day.
  • New Cloths are often bought for the New Year.
  • A hair cut is often gotten for the New Year.
  • On New Years Day, everyone is careful on how they act since this is setting an example for the rest of the year (not a good day for an argument). It's a day to be super positive. No ghost stories. Don't break anything.
  • Red Decorations (such as the Spring Symbol) are throughout the house. Red is a lucky color.
  • Lion Dances are to scare away bad spirits. Fire crackers also do this. The Dragon in a parade is the symbol of strength.
  • The Lantern Festival has lanterns in different shapes to scare away evil spirits.
Great references are Good Luck Life: The Essential Guide To Chinese American Celebrations And Culture and New Year in Ping Wei - A Documentary of China - DVD. What is nice about the DVD is it shows a Chinese village and explains the why behind the what they are doing for Chinese New Year. So it has an Uncle writing the Chinese for paper to be put on the wall. What do the Chinese Symbols mean? The DVD is dubbed in English and is very well done. I highly recommend it.



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