February 19, 2015 — Happy Chinese New Year, Mannatech!
As the Western world finishes celebrating their New Year, many others are beginning to celebrate Chinese New Year. It’s the most awaited festival of the year and is celebrated all over the world.
Imagine a party that goes on for 15 days – that’s Chinese New Year! The color red is everywhere. Children carry lanterns and fireworks light up the sky. There is a deep sense of community as families unite to celebrate the New Year and honor their departed relatives. You’ll hear drumming, you’ll see dancing and you’ll smell the best in Chinese cooking.
The Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, is the most important social and economic holiday in China. Originally tied to the lunar-solar Chinese calendar, the holiday was a time to honor household and heavenly deities as well as ancestors. It was also a time to bring family together for meals.
Chinese months are counted by the lunar calendar, with each month beginning on the darkest day. Festivities usually start on the first day of the month and continue until the 15th day, when the moon is brightest. In China, people may take weeks of vacation to prepare for and celebrate the New Year. 1
Chinese New Year Festivities
During Chinese New Year celebrations, people wear red clothes, decorate with poems on red paper and give children “lucky money” in red envelopes. The color red symbolizes fire, which according to legend, can drive away bad luck. A similar custom are the fireworks displays. People in China used to light bamboo stalks, believing that the crackling flames would frighten evil spirits. 1
The Lantern Festival
The lantern festival is held on the 15th day of the first lunar month. Some of the lanterns may be works of art, painted with birds, animals, flowers, zodiac signs and scenes from legend and history. People hang them in temples and carry them in parades. 1
The highlight of the lantern festival is the dragon dance. The dragon is made of silk, paper or bamboo and is held high by young men who dance as they walk through the streets. In the United States, the dragon dance always takes place on a weekend.
The Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco is always referred to as ‘one of the best outside of China’. Miss Chinatown is preceded by a 201-foot-long Golden Dragon, manned by a team of 100 men and women. This impressive dragon was specially made in China and has been the star of many, many parades.2
Probably more food is eaten during the New Year celebrations than any other time of the year. Chinese families eat a vegetarian dish called jai, shown below. The various ingredients are attributed to superstitions. For instance, black moss seaweed is a homonym for exceeding in wealth, and bamboo shoots is a term that sounds like, “wishing that everything would be well.” 3
Other foods include fish, chicken and noodles. The noodles should be uncut, as they represent long life.3
How do you celebrate your Chinese New Year, and where? Please share with us.