Chinese New Year is one of the most important days in the year among Chinese communities and it falls on January 28th for 2017. Celebratory activities with colourful or ethnic characteristics last up to two weeks and are performed by different Chinese groups across the board in China and overseas alike. Here in Vancouver it is no different.
Though the rituals and folklore varies from group to group, it is not hard to spot the commonality in these activities because they came from the same origin. History told us the variations evolved and diversified through time and people. They reflect and signify the local cultures and traditions and then they are practiced year after year and handed down from one generation to another.
1。Honouring God and Family
The early history of China recorded Chinese regarded God as “Tian 天” meaning “Sky” or “Heaven”, though they did not have a name for a personal God. The emperor （天子 “Tian Zi” the Son of Heaven) will lead his administrative officials to the temple to offer thanksgiving sacrifices. The parents of ordinary families will dress up their children, first to pay respect to their deceased ancestors, then to visit their grandparents, parents, and close relatives, and secondly, to neighbours and friends to exchange well-wishes. Family members, even they are far away from home for whatever reasons, will come home to join the family reunion in the New Year.
2。Posting Couplets and Paper Cuttings
Red and gold are the main colours to symbolize joy and wealth. People dress themselves up in newly tailored clothes decorated by these colours. It is also a common practice that families post couplets or red paper cuttings with poetic wordings wishing peace and blessings on their windows and door frames.
3。Fire Works and Lion Dance
The sound of explosions and the gun powder smell of the firecrackers, the rhythm of the drums, and the enchanting cymbals set off the lion dance and uplift the joyful spirit of the festive season, warding off the evil spirits of the old year and welcoming the prosperity the new year shall bring.
4。Food and Drink
One can never exaggerate enough when they want to describe the foods and drinks of Chinese New Year. Every ethnic group will try to show off their family’s secret recipes of certain traditional delicacies, but the common ingredients will mainly resort to pork (except Muslin), chicken, fish, and vegetables. The spices and the source, the cutting and cooking techniques, and the artsy presentations can create endless possibilities of masterpieces, pleasing to the heart and pleasing to the mouth. Fish in particular, the Chinese word sounds as “Yu”, rhymes with another Chinese word meaning “surplus”. That is to mean “shall not want”. With respect to alcohol and wine, other than “MaoTai” made famous by Nixon, there are hundreds if not thousands of local brews to suit all tastes. Each stands up to represent their local delight and flavour. Noodle is another dish commonly believed as a symbol for longevity.
5。Red Pockets and Lucky Money
Kids love Chinese New Year! Not only they get to wear new clothes and shoes, they also receive red pockets filled with money from their grandparents, parents, relatives, and their parent’s close friends. Red pockets are a lucky charm for blessings, for health, and for wealth.
An old Chinese saying has it “一元復始 萬象更新 “meaning “A new page is turned. Every thing starts afresh ..”
舊事已過，一切都變成新的了2 Corinthians 5:17 “old things are passed away, all things are become new”