Monday, February 8th, 2016 commemorates a tradition that began in 2300 BC and still lights up hearts and dazzles streets today. Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is not only a celebration of new harvest, but it is also a tradition celebrated around the globe. There are many ways to celebrate Chinese New Year, and if you were to walk down the colorful streets of Chinatown during this time, you would be mesmerized by a variety of ancient traditions. Red firecrackers are a symbol of protection, and it is believed that ghosts, bad spirits, and the legendary monster, Nian (believed to attack in the New Year) were afraid of loud noises. The lion dances combine art, history, and culture with rigorous Chinese martial arts movements. The lion symbolizes courage, strength, and authority and is a way of welcoming in a new and prosperous year. The red banners we see during this time represent good fortune for new beginnings.
There are also customs shared around the world in light of the New Year. For Westerners, we often receive many gifts on Christmas, but for Chinese New Year families, it is customary to give and receive red packets containing money. The envelopes are a lucky red to help ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune to the receiver. The packets are decorated with auspicious symbols that mean words of endearment like “prosperity.” The amounts given in these packets have much meaning, and must be in even numbers, such as $8, which symbolizes wealth. The most important piece of etiquette is that you must not open it in front of the giver.
This Chinese New Year represents the Red Fire Monkey and is ideal for a quantum leap in your life! Now is the time to shake things up, create change, and innovate a new path. There will be more than enough action and opportunity to keep you busy, as this 15-day celebration will be marveled all around the world. Wherever they are, people come home to celebrate the festival with their families. As tradition continues, the New Year’s Eve dinner is called Reunion Dinner, and is believed to be the most important meal of the year. Big families with many generations at once sit around round tables and enjoy the food and time together.
Try something new this year, if you don’t already celebrate this incredible Spring Festival, and go see a breathtaking celebration locally! Happy Chinese New Year to you all! W