Happy Monday! It’s time for Did You Know.
Yesterday marked the beginning of the Chinese New Year celebrations. This is the Year of the Rabbit.
But did you know Chinese New Year and Lunar New Year are the same celebration?
The holiday is referred to as the Lunar New Year because it follows a lunar calendar and the dates of celebration therefore follow the phases of the moon. It begins with the first new moon of the lunar calendar and ends on the first full moon of the lunar calendar, 15 days later. Because it is based on the lunar calendar, the date it falls on within the Western Calendar, a solar calendar, can vary from year to year.
Lunar New Year festivals date back thousands of years and are steeped in ancient legends and rituals. But many of the old ways are still practiced today. According to The Encyclopedia Britannica:
Approximately 10 days before the beginning of the new lunar year, houses are thoroughly cleaned to remove any bad luck that might be lingering inside, a custom called “sweeping of the grounds.” Traditionally, New Year’s eve and New Year’s day are reserved for family celebrations, including religious ceremonies honouring ancestors. Also on New Year’s day, family members receive red envelopes (lai see) containing small amounts of money. Dances and fireworks are prevalent throughout the holidays, culminating in the Lantern Festival, which is celebrated on the last day of the New Year’s celebrations. On this night colourful lanterns light up the houses, and traditional foods such as yuanxiao (sticky rice balls that symbolize family unity), fagao (prosperity cake), and yusheng (raw fish and vegetable salad) are served.
The beauty of the Lunar New Year celebration practices, both symbolic and practical, could and should lead one to consider creating their own tradition of celebrating this incredible celestial cycle. In a time of fear, prejudice, and separatism, we should stop to consider the beauty of other cultures.