Chinese New Year

2015

Chinese New YearThe Lunar New Year or Spring Festival is known by most Westerners as the Chinese New Year.

This is an important and fabulous festival of new beginnings.

In the Chinese Lunar calendar the Chinese New Year can never occur earlier than January 21th and never later than February 20th.

Preparations for the Chinese New Year

Preparations start the month before. One important day is the 20th day of the twelfth lunar month.

This day is dedicated to cleaning the home. It is known as “the day for sweeping floors”. Absolutely every spot is cleaned.

It is of vital importance that no one should enter a New Year with old dirt in the house.

All debts should be paid before the Chinese New Year.

Gifts are exchanged during the Chinese New Year. It could be flowers, candy, wine, jewelry or whatever. Much like Christmas in the West, this is the annual occasion for giving and receiving gifts.




The Kitchen God

On the 24th day of the 12th Lunar month the Kitchen God is sent on his way to heaven. He will return on the 4th day of the Chinese New Year.

kitchen godThe actual name of the Kitchen God is Tsao Chün. Some people call him the Stove God. This is because an image of him often is placed over the stove.

The Kitchen God keeps tabs about all that has been said and done in the household.

Once a year he is requested to report to the Jade Emperor in heaven and give a testimonial about the behavior of the members of the household. 

The Jade Emperor is the Supreme Ruler of the Heavens, the Underworld and of humans.

What is told about the members of the household will influence their fortune for the following year.

All reports are equally kept and referred to at the Courts of the Underworld where judgement is passed.

On the 24th day of the twelfth Lunar month many may choose to burn incense and give the Kitchen God offerings. His picture is taken down.

Some choose to smear honey and sugar on his month. This is done hoping he will only utter sweet words about the family.

He is then burned and off he goes on his way to see the Jade Emperor.

On the 4th day of the Chinese New Year a new picture of the Kitchen God is placed on the wall above the stove. This marks his return.

Spring Couplets

On the last day of the old year many choose to paste strips of paper on each side of the door of their home or office.

One strip of paper is also pasted across the lintel over the door.

These strips of paper always have auspicious statements and wishes printed on them.

The Fifteen Days of the Chinese New Year

On the first day of the New Year everybody needs to wear new clothes. This is the day to visit with very close relatives and expressing good wishes to your loved ones.

It is also common to spend a little time worshipping deities.

Traditionally one would not eat meat on this day as it was considered a day of cleansing. Today many will not be too strict about that matter and may eat meat in the evening.

Most will only eat vegetarian for breakfast.

This is the day to give and receive the red envelopes containing money for good luck. These red envelopes are called “Li Shi”.

Many parents place them under their children’s pillow.

Grandparents may give lucky red envelopes to their children and grandchildren. They may also be given to relatives or friends.

A lot of lucky money exchanges hands during the New Year.

It is told that this custom will bring good luck and prosperity to both the giver and the receiver. A traditional New Year greeting is “wishing you prosperity”.

On the second day it is common to visit friends and relatives. Traditional New Year foods are eaten. Many spend their time gambling. Gambling is socially accepted as entertainment the first three days of the Chinese New Year.



During the first and second day of the New Year it is important not to do any housework.

You do not want to “Sweep or wash out the wealth”.

Equally one should not use any knives or scissors during these two days.

The third day is often called the “Squabbling Day”. Old superstition states that on this day people will tend to quarrel with each other. To be on the safe side it is better to spend the day visiting the temple instead.

Once at the temple it is time to discover what can be expected the coming year. Some may inquire about their future by “Shaking the Fortune Sticks” or “Asking the Blocks”.

The fourth day is all about welcoming the Kitchen God back. A new poster of the Kitchen God has been purchased and is hung above the stove.

Parents also expect their married daughters to visit them on this day.

The fifth day is dedicated to the “God of Wealth”.

Shops will open and many stores will start big sales on this day to attract customers.

On day six you can start to clean your home as you normally do throughout the year. Most people have returned to work by now.

The seventh day is called “All Men’s Day”. It is the birthday of everyone. Many will eat “congee” on this day. Congee is a rice soup.

The eighth day of the Chinese New Year is the day all the gods have their annual gathering in heaven. Believers will be sure to worship the gods on this day.

The ninth day of the Chinese New Year is the birthday of the subprime god “The Jade Emperor in Heaven”. Most believers will offer incense on this day.

The Lantern Festival

The last days of the New Year celebrations, day ten through fifteen are dedicated to the “Lantern Festival”.  

The fifteenth day is the last day of celebration with red lanterns for luck everywhere.

lantern festivalThese red lanterns symbolize very good luck, prosperity, reunion, happiness, protection, harmony and all that is good.

Red lanterns are a suburb good luck symbol.

Often you may find a riddle attached to a lantern. A small prize may be given to the person who solves the riddle.

Lion dancers perform in the streets during the Lantern Festival. These dances are all about being brave and strong.

It is about preventing evil spirits doing harm and ensuring good fortune to people.

This is a happy occasion. Many well wishes for an auspicious year are exchanged.

Chinese New Year Food

Fish is considered very auspicious to eat during the New Year.

Be sure to eat a ton of Chinese dumplings. The more dumplings you eat, the more money you will earn.

They are said to resemble Chinese silver ingots. You have got to love those dumplings.

Spring rolls are also great for Chinese New Year. They are a symbol of wealth as they are said to symbolize gold bars.

Spring rolls are eaten to attract wealth the coming year.

Noodles are eaten for a long life. Many places even have special longevity noodles that are a bit longer than normal.

Eat your noodles, the longer they are the better. Do not ever dare to cut your noodles. That would be tempting fate.

Chinese lucky oranges new yearAre you seeking prosperity? Get a load of oranges. The Chinese words for orange and the word for wealth are similar. Tangerines will also do, as the word in Chinese may sound much like the word for “luck”. Equally the color of the orange symbolize gold. These are extremely auspicious fruits during the New Year.

Pomegranates are a symbol of fertility. This fruit contains lots of seeds.

This makes it the perfect fruit to eat for any woman hoping to give birth the following year.

You may want to try the round sesame seed balls called “Jian Dui”. There is a saying that goes like this: “As the sesame cakes are rolled, the house is filled with silver and gold”.

 Sweet rice balls called Tangyuan are eaten during the Lantern Festival to ensure a happy family reunion.

The Chinese Zodiac

It is the Jade Emperor who dedicated one year to each of the twelve animals who paid him a visit. There are many different versions of the story.

Chinese zodiac animalsSome stories say the Jade Emperor summoned the animals to a meeting or perhaps a banquet.  

The first twelve to arrive would be honored with a year in the Chinese zodiac.

In many stories the Jade Emperor invited all the animals to a going away party before he left the earth.

Only twelve animals came on the given day.

The first animal to arrive was the rat. The rat had hitched a ride on the back of the ox when crossing the final river.

As they reached shore the rat leaped off the ox and managed to get in first.

The ox came in second place.  The tiger came in third place.

The fourth animal to arrive was the rabbit. The rabbit had crossed the river by jumping on stones and floating logs.

The fifth animal to reach its destination was the dragon. The dragon could have arrived earlier as it could fly.

The dragon had been delayed helping farmers by bringing rain clouds.

Next the horse galloped ashore. The snake had clung on to the hoof of the horse. The snake loosened its grip and crawled out from under the horse.

The horse got a real fright which caused a small delay. The snake hurried across the goal line.  The snake got in sixth and the horse seventh.

In eighth place was the goat. In ninth place was the monkey and in tenth place was the rooster.

These three animals helped each other and worked together to cross the river.

The dog joined the others coming in 11th place. The dog had spent too much time playing before crossing the river and thus was late to the banquet.

Finally the pig arrived in last. The pig had enjoyed a good meal and had taken a nap.

Your Year in the Chinese Zodiac

Rat:
Feb 5, 1924 – Jan 23, 1925
Jan 24, 1936 – Feb 10, 1937
Feb 10, 1948 – Jan 28, 1949
Jan 28, 1960 – Feb 14, 1961
Feb 15, 1972 – Feb 2, 1973
Feb 2, 1984 – Feb 19, 1985
Feb 19, 1996 – Feb 6, 1997
Feb 7, 2008 – Jan 25, 2009
Jan 25, 2020 – Feb 11, 2021
Feb 11, 2032 – Jan 30, 2033
Ox:
Jan 24, 1925 – Feb 12, 1926
Feb 11, 1937 – Jan 30, 1938
Jan 29, 1949 – Feb 16, 1950
Feb 15, 1961 – Feb 4, 1962
Feb 3, 1973 – Jan 22, 1974
Feb 20, 1985 – Feb 8, 1986
Feb 7, 1997 – Jan 27, 1998
Jan 26, 2009 – Feb 13, 2010
Feb 12, 2021 – Jan 31, 2022
Jan 31, 2033 – Feb 18, 2034
Tiger:
Feb 13, 1926 – Feb 1, 1927
Jan 31, 1938 – Feb 18, 1939
Feb 17, 1950 – Feb 5, 1951
Feb 5, 1962 – Jan 24, 1963
Jan 23, 1974 – Feb 10, 1975
 Feb 9, 1986 – Jan 28, 1987
Jan 28, 1998 – Feb 15, 1999
 Feb 14, 2010 – Feb 2, 2011
Feb 1, 2022 – Jan 21, 2023
Feb 19, 2034 – Feb 7, 2035
Rabbit:
Feb 2, 1927 – Jan 22, 1928
Feb 19, 1939 – Feb 7, 1940
Feb 6, 1951 – Jan 26, 1952
Jan 25, 1963 – Feb 12, 1964
Feb 11, 1975 – Jan 30, 1976
Jan 29, 1987 – Feb 16, 1988
 Feb 16, 1999 – Feb 4, 2000
 Feb 3, 2011 – Jan 22, 2012
Jan 22, 2023 – Feb 9, 2024
 Feb 8, 2035 – Jan 27, 2036
Dragon:
Jan 23, 1928 – Feb 9, 1929
 Feb 8, 1940 – Jan 26, 1941
Jan 27, 1952 – Feb 13, 1953
Feb 13, 1964 – Feb 1, 1965
Jan 31, 1976 – Feb 17, 1977
Feb 17, 1988 – Feb 5, 1989
Feb 5, 2000 – Jan 23, 2001
Jan 23, 2012 – Feb 9, 2013
Feb 10, 2024 – Jan 28, 2025        
Jan 28, 2036 – Feb 14, 2037
Snake:
Feb 10, 1929 – Jan 29, 1930
Jan 27, 1941 – Feb 14, 1942
Feb 14, 1953 – Feb 2, 1954
Feb 2, 1965 – Jan 20, 1966
Feb 18, 1977 – Feb 6, 1978
Feb 6, 1989 – Jan 26, 1990
Jan 24, 2001 – Feb 11, 2002
Feb 10, 2013 – Jan 30, 2014
Jan 29, 2025 – Feb 16, 2026
Feb 15, 2037 – Feb 3, 2038
Horse:
Jan 30, 1930 – Feb 16, 1931
 Feb 15, 1942 – Feb 4, 1943
 Feb 3, 1954 – Jan 23, 1955
Jan 21, 1966 – Feb 8, 1967
 Feb 7, 1978 – Jan 27, 1979
 Jan 27, 1990 – Feb 14, 1991
Feb 12, 2002 – Jan 31, 2003
Jan 31, 2014 – Feb 18, 2015
Feb 17, 2026 – Feb 5, 2027
Feb 4, 2038 – Jan 23, 2039
Goat:
Feb 17, 1931 – Feb 5, 1932
Feb 5, 1943 – Jan 24, 1944
Jan 24, 1955 – Feb 11, 1956
Feb 9, 1967 – Jan 29, 1968
Jan 28, 1979 – Feb 15, 1980
Feb 15, 1991 – Feb 3, 1992
Feb 1, 2003 – Jan 21, 2004
Feb 19, 2015 – Feb 7, 2016
Feb 6, 2027 – Jan 25, 2028
 Jan 24, 2039 – Feb 11, 2040
Monkey:
Feb 6, 1932 – Jan 25, 1933
Jan 25, 1944 – Feb 12, 1945
 Feb 12, 1956 – Jan 30 1957
Jan 30, 1968 – Feb 16, 1969
 Feb 16, 1980 – Feb 4, 1981
Feb 4, 1992 – Jan 22, 1993
Jan 22, 2004 – Feb 8, 2005
Feb 8, 2016 – Jan 27, 2017
Jan 26, 2028 – Feb 12, 2029
Feb 12, 2040 – Jan 31, 2041
Rooster:
 Jan 26, 1933 – Feb 13, 1934
 Feb 13, 1945 – Feb 1, 1946
 Jan 31, 1957 – Feb 17, 1958
Feb 17, 1969 – Feb 5, 1970
 Feb 5, 1981 – Jan 24, 1982
Jan 23, 1993 – Feb 9, 1994
Feb 9, 2005 – Jan 28, 2006
Jan 28, 2017 – Feb 15, 2018        
Feb 13, 2029 – Feb 2, 2030  
Feb 1, 2041 – Jan 21, 2042
Dog:
Feb 14, 1934 – Feb 3, 1935
Feb 2, 1946 – Jan 21, 1947
Feb 18, 1958 – Feb 7, 1959         
Feb 6, 1970 – Jan 26, 1971
Jan 25, 1982 – Feb 12, 1983
Feb 10, 1994 – Jan 30, 1995
Jan 29, 2006 – Feb 17, 2007
Feb 16, 2018 – Feb 4, 2019
Feb 3, 2030 – Jan 22, 2031
Jan 22, 2042 – Feb 9, 2043
Pig:
Feb 4, 1935 – Jan 23, 1936
Jan 22, 1947 – Feb 9, 1948
Feb 8, 1959 – Jan 27, 1960
Jan 27, 1971 – Feb 14, 1972
Feb 13, 1983 – Feb 1, 1984
Jan 31, 1995 – Feb 18, 1996
Feb 18, 2007 – Feb 6, 2008
Feb 5, 2019 – Jan 24, 2020
Jan 23, 2031 – Feb 10, 2032
Feb 10, 2043 – Jan 29, 2044

The Cat in the Zodiac

There are different tails about why the cat is not included in the Chinese zodiac. One story reports that the cat and the rat both hitched a ride on the back of the ox. The rat pushed the cat off and the poor cat fell in the river.

Another story reports that the rat lied to the cat informing the cat that the date for the banquet was a day later. The cat arrived as the 13th animal but a day late.

This explains why the cat forever more takes revenge on the rat. The cat has never forgotten the betrayal of the rat.

In Vietnam it is a different story. In Vietnam the cat comes in fourth thus replacing the rabbit. Also the water buffalo is represented instead of the ox in Vietnam.

In the Japanese zodiac the sheep replaces the goat and the wild boar replaces the pig.