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Chinese New Year

A traditional Chinese holiday

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Tiger reigns for 2010

  • Feb 9, 2010
Chinese New Year celebration lasts for 15 days every year (bet most of you didn't know that! ;-)). The first day of the year is the start of a new moon. This year, it is on the exact same day as Valentine's Day, ie. Feb. 14, 2010. Countries with Chinese as majority will be having at a long weekend til next Tuesday or Wednesday. In China, the Chinese New Year holidays last for an entire week. This year, the first day of work in the Year of The Tiger shall be on Feb. 20. 

2010 is Year 4707 in the Chinese Calendar. The Chinese Calendar has been in continuous use for centuries, a lot longer than the Gregorian Calendar has been in used. This year, the animal of the year is Tiger. And in the Chinese Calendar the year begins on Feb. 14. The Year of the Ox shall ends on Feb. 13, 2010 which has been believed to be a year of toiling. Ox is afterall an animal associated with working in the field mostly. The Year of the (Golden) Tiger is believed to be an fearless & courageous year. Tiger is a symbol of power & authority. Having said that, Chinese New Year is based on astronomical observations. It has nothing to do with animals, myths or emperors. It is scientifically & mathematically determined; Chinese New Year is the 2nd New Moon (lunar) after the Winter Solstice (solar).                      
The significance of Chinese New Year
1) Spring Cleaning
It is common to clean one's home as the year draws to a close in order to welcome new and better luck. In reality, this is done to prepare open houses to friends and family members who'll come visiting during the New Year period. It is customary to visit people we know, be it your colleagues, friends or relatives during the 15 days of the New Year. Hence, one certainly needs to get the home ready & to stock up on goodies. Let's get ready for party time!
2) Reunion Dinner
On New Year's Eve, everyone in the family goes home to their parents for dinner. In China especially since many left home for another province to work and to faraway places, it's time for return for reunions. All will return to their hometowns and have a feast to their heart's content. Sharing about experiences, about the past year's happenings and about what's new in the new year will be the topic of discussions among family. It's very much like Christmas Eve. No gifts but some may give red packets (with cash inside) to their children and grandchildren this very night while some practice giving it on New Year Day itself.
3) Visiting Friends & Relatives
On Chinese New Year Day, some may choose to stay at home awaiting friends and relatives to visit while the younger generation usually go about town visiting those who are more senior to them. All will dress in new clothes and shoes for good luck. Red is the auspicious color and if you dress in black on this day, it will be frowned upon as black is considered a color associated with death where the Chinese are concerned. One wears black on funeral day and most welcome to adorn oneself in red on Chinese New Year day. The brighter the color, the better it is. For Good Luck, obviously!

4) Red Packets
This is most welcome by kids of all ages and most 'dreaded' by adults. Red packets are given to children by married couples and seniors. The custom is this, if you bring your kids to your friend's or sister's home, the host (only if he/she is married) shall give red packets to your children. AND, if the hosts also have children of their own, you shall return the favor in kind. How much you will give is dependent on your relations with one another and also how economically well off you are. It's a give & take situation. However, if you're married and without kids, then you are bound to be in a lose situation. Hence, it's common for some who wish to avoid making a losing deal by going overseas for holidays instead! 

5) Nian Gao (New Year Cake)
Nian Gao (年糕) rhymes with a Chinese Idiom that translates to Nian Nian Gao Sheng (年年高升), ie. up and up every year. Meaning if you are in business, your business will be improving with each new year. Or if you are working for a salary, your salary & bonuses will be higher than last. Hence, it is a common practice to eat this Chinese New Year cake during the Chinese New Year so that your year will begin auspiciously. New Year Cake is prevalent in Southern part of China while Dumpling is the food on the table in the North. Dumpling also symbolize wealth as their shape is like a Chinese Tael (old form of money in China). Hence, it is commonly practiced by the Chinese that one should only say good things in Chinese New Year and not to argue with others. It is bad chi to argue and in order to have good karma, be nice to everyone during these 15 days. How true that is I'm not sure, but I'm not going to trade in my entire year's luck by swearing at anyone. Well, patience is a virtue. If you can't hold it for long, you must at least control your temper for the first 15 days of the Chinese New Year. Be forewarned! ;-)

6) Lion Dance & Fire Crackers
Lion Dance is a symbolic ritual to usher in the New Year. Chinese businesses love this and will invite the troupe to dance in and around their business compounds. It is meant to evict bad spirits from the business premises. Fireworks & fire crackers are traditionally very popular in China. In fact, last year, in Beijing, fireworks created havoc & burned the entire Mandarin Oriental Hotel which was due to open last year. It was said that CCTV staffs were involved in this case. Singapore & Hong Kong governments have banned this due to fire hazard concerns.

7) Seventh Day of New Year (人日)
This is the common man's birthday, ie everyone's birthday. Human Day.

8) Lantern Festival (also Chinese Valentine's Day)
The last day of Chinese New Year, ie. the 15th day is the day one eats sweet glutinous rice balls (in soup) (汤圆). It is known as Yuanxiao Jie (元宵节). This day marks the end of the Chinese New Year festivities.


So, here's wishing everyone on Lunch a Happy Valentine's Day & a Prosperous Chinese New Year!

Tiger reigns for 2010 Tiger reigns for 2010

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February 18, 2010
February 18, 2010
;-) Thanks!
February 13, 2010
Beautiful pictures, and excellent review
February 16, 2010
Thanks, Harold!
February 11, 2010
Thanks so much for this great review, Sharrie- I was only partially aware of all that Chinese New Year entails and I'm really looking forward to the Year of the Tiger!
February 16, 2010
Any wedding bells in the year of the tiger? ;-)
February 16, 2010
Next year...in May...what year is that? With my luck, it'd be Year of the Ass LOL...
February 17, 2010
Year of the Rabbit! Ass? Unless u mean Playboy, LOL...
February 11, 2010
I'm partaking in all eight of these things, and I just made an insane amount of #5. I was actually going to use the list feature to make a list of this stuff, but it looks like you beat me to the punch! Great review, Sharrie, and happy new year! :D
February 11, 2010
You made #5? At home? Wow! Which reminds me, I'll have to go out now to get some more! I had eaten all of them even b4 the new year! Do you fry them with eggs? I love it when its fried with eggs! I need to get some turnip cakes too! Anything with the word cakes (gao or height in them). For good luck ;-)
February 11, 2010
Yup! It's the most Chinese thing I know how to cook :P I'll be uploading photos soon! I don't think I've ever fried them with egg before, but I definitely like pan frying them by themselves. I'll have to try that! Mmmmm.... turnip cake :D
February 12, 2010
The New Year cake to be fried with eggs is the traditional sweet cake, not turnip cake, btw. The one that's pictured here. I do know the Shanghainese New Year cake is plain white while some consider the turnip cake new year cake. The Cantonese new year cake is brown in color, if I'm not mistaken. It tastes great when fried with eggs with a dash of salt.
February 11, 2010
Year of the Golden Tiger? Nice. Excellent review.
February 11, 2010
Yes! I just heard about a Tiger baby on the way... Congrats! Remember to get that red packet from JR ;-)
February 11, 2010
awesome review Sharrie!! I have a niece or nephew coming on the 15th!!! I think my Brew planned it that way so he/she can be one of the first Tiger babies. I will have to get some red packets for him/her on Monday!
February 11, 2010
Cool! Lucky baby :) Hey JR, you'll have to work harder yourself... hehe, with regards to baby, that is ;) Still in time for one yourself too! The year of tiger stretches until Feb 2, 2011, LOL...
February 16, 2010
Is the baby a girl or a boy? Who does she/he looks like? :-)
February 10, 2010
whoo-wee! I know I am not Chinese but I have quite a few friends who are. I love the cake and the food! FOOD...FOOD...FOOD!!
February 10, 2010
It's time to go visit those friends of yours! Plenty of FOOD ;-)
February 10, 2010
More Chinese New Year reviews
Quick Tip by . February 04, 2011
posted in Go China
Happy Rabbit Year to all Chinese in the world & on Lunch.com! Eat, drink & be merry!!!
Quick Tip by . February 04, 2011
posted in Go Hong Kong
15 days of feasting & festivities for the Chinese around the world. 1st day of the Year of Rabbit begins on Feb. 3 this year (2011) and will last until Feb. 17. 恭喜發財!!!
Quick Tip by . February 14, 2010
Gong hei fatt choy, everyone! :)
Quick Tip by . February 09, 2010
Spring Festival & Valentine's Day coincides for 1st time since 1953 (ie 57 years ago). The next time will be in 2048 (38 years later)!
About the reviewer
Sharrie ()
Ranked #3
I'm a traveler at heart & have been nicknamed Travel Queen by friends & colleagues alike. Traveling has been my life passion for the last decade or so. As we enter a new decade, I'm excited … more
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 Chinese New Year or Spring Festival is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. It is often called the Lunar New Year, especially by people in mainland China and Taiwan. The festival traditionally begins on the first day of the first month (Chinese: 正月; pinyin: zhēng yuè) in the Chinese calendar and ends on the 15th; this day is called Lantern Festival. Chinese New Year's Eve is known as Chúxī. It literally means "Year-pass Eve".

Chinese New Year is the longest and most important festivity in the Lunar Calendar. The origin of Chinese New Year is itself centuries old and gains significance because of several myths and traditions. Ancient Chinese New Year is a reflection on how the people behaved and what they believed in the most.

Celebrated in areas with large populations of ethnic Chinese, Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had influence on the new year celebrations of its geographic neighbours, as well as cultures with whom the Chinese have had extensive interaction. These include Koreans, Mongolians, Nepalese, Bhutanese, Vietnamese, and formerly the Japanese before 1873. Outside of Mainland China,Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, Chinese New Year is also celebrated in countries with significant Han Chinese populations, such asSingapore, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand. In Canada, although Chinese New Year is not an official holiday, many ethnic Chinese hold large ...
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