Chinese New Years Festival

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The Chinese god of the kitchen

The Chinese New Year , Chunjie ( Chinese 春節 / 春节, Pinyin chūnjié  - " Spring Festival "; also農曆 新年 / 农历 新年, nónglì xīnnián  - " Farmer's Calendar New Year" or過年 / 过年, gùo nián  - " New Year "), is considered the most important traditional Chinese holiday and is one of the Asian Lunar New Years . New Year's Day, the date of which is calculated according to the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar , falls on oneNew moon between January 21st and February 21st. The year of the Metal Ox began on February 12, 2021 and will last until January 31, 2022. February 1, 2022 is the year of the Water Tiger .

distribution

The New Year is celebrated mainly in East Asia ( Chinese culture , Korea, Mongolia, Okinawa, Vietnam, until 1873 in Japan), but also worldwide in areas with a large proportion of Chinese abroad ( Thailand , Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia , the Philippines or overseas) . Above all, these are special city districts, the Chinatowns , which have often developed their own New Year's tradition due to their political, geographical and cultural distance from China, in particular due to the consequences of the Cultural Revolution .

Other ethnic groups such as Mongols , Koreans , Miao , Vietnamese , Bhutanese and some ethnic groups in Nepal , which were influenced by China in a cultural, religious or linguistic way, have adopted certain elements or the date of the Chinese New Year. The customs can therefore prove to be very different from region to region. In Tibet , the New Year is usually celebrated a new moon later than in the rest of China. Since the festival is celebrated in various countries and is based on the lunisolar calendar, it is also called the Lunar New Year , as the original name is in Chinese.

Chinese New Year is a clan and family festival . Since there are a large number of overseas Chinese and more and more family members are living apart from their families due to the labor needs of the southern Chinese coastal regions, the largest regular migration movement in the world begins every year on the occasion of this festival. The Chinese who work outside of their home areas usually save their entire annual vacation entitlement in order to be able to be away from work for at least two, if not more, weeks for the Chinese New Year. A side effect of this migration is that clan interests are discussed in the home country and that other work opportunities are sometimes offered. This is a fixed calculation factor, e.g. B. at construction sites in the entire Southeast Asian region.

date

Date New Years Day Name of the year
19th February 2015 Year of the Wooden Sheep (乙未, yǐwèi 32)
February 8, 2016 Year of the Fire Monkey (丙申, bǐngshēn 33)
January 28, 2017 Year of the Fire Rooster (丁酉, dīngyǒu 34)
February 16, 2018 Year of the Earth Dog (戊戌, wùxū 35)
5th February 2019 Year of the Earth Pig (己亥, jǐhài 36)
January 25, 2020 Year of the Metal Rat (庚子, gēngzǐ 37)
February 12, 2021 year of the metal ox (辛丑, xīnchǒu 38)
February 1, 2022 Year of the Water Tiger (壬寅, rényín 39)

Since the Chinese calendar, unlike the Gregorian calendar, is a lunisolar calendar , the Chinese New Year falls on different days. This is contrasted by the Western New Year celebrations (新年, Xīnnián ) , which are based on the Gregorian calendar .

The Chinese and Vietnamese New Year celebrations take place between January 21 and February 21, on the second (very rarely on the third) new moon after the winter solstice . New Year's Day shifts from year to year by approx. 11 days to an earlier date; if this results in an appointment before January 21st, a leap month will be inserted and the appointment will be postponed by approx. 19 days instead.

According to Chinese astrology, the New Year festival is associated with the cyclical alternation between the twelve different branches of the earth : The year of the ox begins on the Chinese New Year of 2021 . In addition, through a combination with the ten heavenly tribes, a sixty year cycle is run through. With the heavenly stem "metal and yin", this results in the year辛丑, xīnchǒu (number 38) of the 78th sixty-year cycle of the Chinese calendar.

A comprehensive list is available under Chinese calendar cycles, with the timely dates listed in the adjacent table.

mythology

Lion dance for the New Year in Dili ( East Timor )

An old legend has it that a man-eating monster came every year from the mountains (or, depending on the source, from the sea) to satisfy its hunger for deep sleep. To protect themselves from the “monster of the year” (年 獸 / 年 兽, Niánshòu ), people made noise and fire and colored everything red and gold, as the monster supposedly reacts sensitively to noise and the colors red and gold. The expulsion of the monster is called "Guònián", walking of the "Nian or annual monster" (過年 / 过年), which means the walking of the old year, i.e. the New Year festival.

The legend of the lion dance (舞龍 / 舞龙, wǔlóng  - "dragon dance") refers to the then emperor of the Qing dynasty , Qianlong (Ch'ien Lung). One night he had a strange dream. He dreamed of a mythical being with a horn protruding from the center of his head and standing opposite him. The emperor felt frightened, but the creature just looked at him and was gone with a twinkle in its eyes. The emperor immediately summoned his scholars and servants the next morning and began to investigate the meaning of the dream and the essence. His subordinates finally came to the solution that the creature could be a lion and that the latter wanted to make the emperor understand that he was on an equal footing with the emperor. From then on, the emperor called this lion Ruishi (瑞 獅 / 瑞 狮, ruìshī , English Imperial guardian lions  - " lucky lion "). Some time later, the residents of the city of Lingnan in Guangdong province created a new lion, which they called Fushan Shi . To this lion to meet now with life, experimented various martial arts AGENT, with different choreography to perform dance steps to complete this task. So after some time an independent form of dance emerged, which is still known today as the "lion dance".

Greetings

Chinese 招財進寶 / 招财进宝, Pinyin zhāo cái jìn bǎo  - " Call for wealth and get treasures into the house"

Different greetings are used for the New Year:

新年 快樂 / 新年 快乐, xīnnián kuàilè , Jyutping san 1 nin 4 faai 3 lok 6  - "Happy New Year"
新年, xīnnián stands for “New Year”.快樂 / 快乐, kuàilè stands for “happy / cheerful”.
恭 賀新禧 / 恭 贺新禧, gōnghè xīnxǐ , Jyutping gung 1 ho 6 san 1 hei 1  - "Congratulations for new luck and blessings in the new year"
恭喜 發財 / 恭喜 发财, gōngxǐ fācái , Hokkien keong hee huat chye , Jyutping gung 1 hei 2 faat 3 coi 4 , Cantonese  kung hei fat choi  - "Congratulations for success and prosperity"
恭喜, gōngxǐ is another expression for恭賀 / 恭贺, gōnghè and stands for “congratulations or congratulations” and發財 / 发财, fācái means “monetarily successful” or “to come to prosperity and wealth” . So together “Congratulations for success and prosperity in the new year”. This greeting is used when you want to wish others a successful year and good luck; it is more common in southwest China and especially in the Canton and Taiwan area.

Course and traditions

Red lanterns as a symbol of good luck

Preparations for the New Year festival begin long before the new year, usually within a period of two weeks. In the People's Republic of China, New Year celebrates three public holidays, but traditionally it is fifteen and there are typically five to eight days off. The conclusion is celebrated on the 15th day of the New Year with the Lantern Festival . The New Year is celebrated with fireworks , dragon and lion dances and typically accompanied by mah-jongg games.

Preparations

Traditionally, on the 20th day of the eleventh month, the house is cleaned with bamboo branches and then decorated, with the numerous lamps and paper ribbons ( duilian ) mostly colored red and labeled with all kinds of New Year's sayings with black ink. In China, red stands for happiness, joy and prosperity. Red also plays a role in relation to the annual demon nian , as legend has it that he terrorized a village every New Year's Day and was ultimately driven away by red paint, lamps and noise. Gold-colored lucky symbols are also placed on the walls. The banners are hung on the door and turned over. In general, everything is renewed before the New Year: you repaint walls, buy new clothes, visit the hairdresser and do preparatory shopping.

One of the many mostly regional rituals is the offering of mostly sweet and sticky rice to the kitchen god (灶君, Zao Jun ). According to legend, he leaves the house seven days before the New Year celebrations to report to the heavenly Jade Emperor about the events of the past year. With the sweet rice, he should only be able to report positive things, and he finally returns to the house four days after the New Year celebrations, where he is received with fruit and tea.

On New Year's Day itself, no well water may be drawn in order to allow the well god to rest. However, this tradition is declining due to the increasing modernization of the water supply.

Last day of the year

"Ang Pow" - money gifts in red envelopes (here in Malaysia )

At the latest on the eve of the New Year celebrations (除夕, chúxī  - “Chinese New Year's Eve”), the family comes together for a rich feast, traditionally with chicken and fish, but this is not completely eaten. The word for “fish”:  / is homophonic to the word for “abundance”:  / , which ultimately implies “prosperity” - this should not be used up. Cash gifts wrapped in red envelopes, called hóngbāo in standard Chinese ( Cantonese laisi / lai si , Hokkien angpow / ang pow ), are distributed to the children, whereby the amount of money is of great importance. Also jiǎozi must be prepared for the next day. Before the start of the new year between 11 p.m. and midnight, you leave the house, taking the traces of the old year with you outside, but then return to open the windows and let in the happiness of the new year. The fireworks start after 11 p.m. and last until late the next morning. It is banned in many cities due to the risk of fire.

New Years Day

London's Chinatown, festively decorated for the Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year in Manchester, UK

The first day of the new year (正月 初一, Zhēngyuè Chūyī ) is also celebrated with the family. They meet in the morning, greet their parents with a New Year's blessing and a compliment. Then red envelopes are distributed to unmarried members of the family, and more rarely to unmarried guests, unless this has already been done the evening before. It is important to remember and show respect for the ancestors.

Even Christians pay the kowtow on old ancestral tables and offer incense sticks . (拜拜, bàibài ) Christians in particular go to mass in the morning and receive a red envelope from the priest with a blessing, for example as a bookmark. After the mass, the ancestors' church will also think of their own genealogical tables, unless there are genealogical tables in the house. The day is also used for New Year's shopping and visiting friends and relatives to wish them a happy New Year. (拜年, bàinián )

Second day

The second day (正月 初二, Zhēngyuè Chū'èr ) is the return of married daughters with their husbands to their families (回 娘家, Huíniángjiā or回 女 家, Huínǚjiā ); it is usually celebrated with an extensive feast.

Third and fourth day

On the third day (正月 初三, Zhēngyuè Chūsān ) and fourth day (正月 初四, Zhēngyuè Chūsì ) of the new year, the relatives are visited. This is often combined with small trips by large families together. This day is also called “Chìkǒu” (赤 口 - “bare mouth = argument”), because it is easier to argue with members of the extended family at family celebrations.

In the case of families in which a relative has died, there is no home visit for three years as a respect for the dead. Instead, the grave, urn or other memorial of the deceased is visited.

fifth day

The fifth day (正月 初五, Zhēngyuè Chūwǔ ) begins in northern China with breakfast with Jiǎozi (餃子 / 饺子 - "dumplings"). He is also called pòwǔ (破 五 - "broken five"). The birthday of the Chinese god of prosperity is also celebrated on this day. In Taiwan, this is traditionally the reopening day of the shops accompanied by fire crackers.

Seventh day

On the seventh day (正月 初七, Zhēngyuè Chūqī ) or “Rénrì” (人日) is “everyone's birthday” when you get a year older. In the past, individual birthdays hardly played a role in traditional China compared to this day, which has changed in modern times.

The day is the highlight of the Spring Festival in the Jin Dynasty as each of the first seven days is an animal's birthday.

Day 1: Chicken Day 2: Dog Day 3: Boar Day 4: Sheep Day 5: Cow Day 6: Horse Day 7: Man

For Buddhists, this is a vegetarian day.

Ninth day

The ninth day (正月 初九, Zhēngyuè Chūjiǔ ) is used by Daoists to worship the Jade Emperor of Heaven (天公, Tiāngōng ).

This day has special meaning for the people of the province of Hokkien , who worship the Jade King on the night of the ninth day and serve him tea and sugar cane in order to be protected from the evil effects of an extermination that took place generations before.

Fifteenth day

On the fifteenth day (正月 十五, Zhēngyuè Shíwǔ ) the Lantern Festival (元宵節 / 元宵节, Yuánxiāojié ) is celebrated. Tangyuan (湯圓 / 汤圆, tāngyuán  - "dumplings made of sticky rice flour with a sweet filling") are eaten and candles are lit outside the house to guide the spirits of the ancestors home. People also take to the streets with small lanterns. The Spring Festival ends on this day.

Customs

Bringing good luck

  • Opening windows and doors to let in happiness during the festival.
  • Leaving the lights on at night to light up the way into the house for happiness and to deter evil spirits.
  • Sweet food to sweeten the new year.
  • Cleaning the house for the New Year so that happiness can be found on the first day.
  • What will happen on the first day of the new year will reflect the year ahead. This is how people like to play on the first day.
  • A new pair of slippers, bought in the old year and worn since day one, means shedding old talk and rumors.
  • On the night before the new year, bathe in grapefruit leaves as it is said to bring health in the new year.
  • Touching the white spots of a Chinese lucky dog (福狗, fúgǒu or福犬, fúquǎn , English Chinese Foo Dog ) New Year's Eve to bring good luck all year long.

Bringing bad luck

  • Buying new shoes during the New Year's days is said to bring bad luck, as the word for shoe (鞋子, xié zi ) is homophonic to the high Chinese word for bad, angry and unhealthy (, xié ).
  • Cutting one's hair during the festivities brings bad luck, as the word hair ( / , ) is homophonic with the word for wealth ( / , ) and would be cut away. (Note that the abbreviations are identical.)
  • Sweeping the floor on the first day means sweeping away happiness.
  • Talking about the dead is taboo and considered ominous.
  • Buying books during the festivities means bad luck because the word book ( / , shū ) is homophonic with the word lose ( / , shū ).
  • White or black clothing should be avoided as black is the color of misfortune and white is traditionally the color of bereavement and is worn to the funeral.

See also

literature

Web links

Commons : Chinese New Year celebrations  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Footnotes

  1. Information from the website of the National University of Singapore: The Mathematics of the Chinese Calendar ( Memento of July 12, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) and When is Chinese New Year? (PDF; 192 kB)
  2. Traditional festivals in China