Five Chinese New Year Attitudes You Can Take On

Chart for the Chinese zodiac

All around the world right now, people of Chinese ancestry are caught up in the celebration of this most important holiday. The frenzy and revelry of Chinese New Year–also called Spring Festival — go on for a whopping 15 days! Whew, they sure do know how to party! And the best kind of partying too, for it’s all spent with family, relatives, and friends.

So if you want to mark this day with some Chinese New Year vibe, here are 5 wonderful attitudes you can adopt.

1.  Squeaky Clean and Spanking New

The excitement begins in the last few weeks of the year, building up to a storm as the day draws near. Everyone just wants everything perfect and in place by New Year’s Eve. Homes are swept, dusted, and cleaned of all dirt and grime. Once the new year begins, no cleaning is allowed for the duration of the Spring Festival, because one might sweep away the good luck.

Sweeping away Green Hills

Chinese artwork depicting house-cleaning

Then there’s the flurry of shopping frenzy for food and new things, which is always fun. It’s out with the old, in with the new. New clothes are a definite must, to attract good fortune for the new year.

All so as to welcome the brand new year with a clean slate, and make a fabulously fresh and sparkling start!

2. Lots of Food and Family

New Year’s Eve is typically spent surrounded by food and family–the best way to start the year, if you ask me.

By “family”, the Chinese typically mean extended family, which spans generations and encompasses several branches. People really expend considerable effort and resources just to make it back to their hometown by New Year’s Eve. In the succeeding days, families go and pay respects to their ancestors, and visit friends and relatives.

“Food”, on the other hand, means a huge banquet, a table heaping with gustatory delights that look like good things (e.g. dumplings that look like gold ingots) or have names that sound like good words (e.g. the word for fish sounds like the word which means abundance). Also, welcoming the new year with pantries filled ensures that they remain filled all year through.

Lucky dish

Having a whole steamed fish means always having more than enough. Image from steamykitchen.com

Good luck dumplings

A lot of these dumplings are consumed during Chinese New Year. They are said to bring good luck because they look like Chinese gold ingots (below). Image from i-chinastyle.com.

gold ingots

Chinese gold ingots

Want to welcome the first new moon of the year with a fantastic spread? Check out the awesome luck-beckoning Chinese New Year Recipes at Steamy Kitchen. http://steamykitchen.com/13241-chinese-new-year-2011-recipes.html

3.  Word Watching

The Chinese have a keen understanding of how powerful words are, how they bring good or evil. That’s why for the duration of the New Year’s and Spring Festival celebration, no negative words must pass the lips, lest they attract bad luck. Curse words are forbidden; only kind words, blessings and wishes for good fortune must flow.

It is a wonderful practice, one that would be great to keep all year long.

Good luck sign

The Chinese word "fu", which means "luck". This word can be found in all places where Chinese New Year is celebrated. Hanging it in the home or place of business invites good luck to enter. Image from brianlinton.com

gong hei fat choi

The traditional Chinese New Year greeting in Cantonese: “Gong Hei Fat Choi!” which means “Congratulations and wishing you prosperity!”

4. Generous Gifts

This is a season of gift-giving, a time when people are at their most generous. Red envelopes seem to fly everywhere as they exchange hands. These packets contain monetary gifts that are given by adults to children, employers to employees, married couples to single friends. Peers, on the other hand exchange gifts of fruit and other edible goodies, as these are symbols of good health and good fortune.

Gift envelopes

The ubiquitous red envelope

red envellope

5. Red and Fabulous

It ain’t Chinese New Year without plenty of bold and flashy red! Legend has it that there used to be a monster that would terrorize a certain Chinese village on the first day of the year, devouring pets, livestock, and people even. But then they discovered that the monster was afraid of loud noises and red things. And that’s why we see a lot of red during Chinese New Year, and also why fireworks and firecrackers are customary. But even if red didn’t have monster-repelling powers, the vibrancy and passion of the color would be enough to attract plenty of good vibes.

red paper lanterns

The 15th and last day of the New Year’s celebration is a Lantern Festival, wherein families carry lit lanterns down the streets, so that lost and stranded spirits can find their way to their home.

Lit red landern

More lanterns

Traditional Chinese dress

Girl in traditional cheongsam dress

red cheongsam

Image from asian-culture-shop.com

Lucky color

Red vases from myfancynancy.com

Chinese inspired boots

Fun and funky boots! Chinese red lotus crunch boots from Asia iCandy.

Sources:

http://www.howchinaworks.com/2009/03/11/chinese-new-year-spring-festival/
http://goseasia.about.com/od/culturepeople/a/seasiacny.htm
http://chinapedia.chinaassistor.com/2009/0131/Upside-down_Fu_Character_21441.html
http://www.theholidayspot.com/chinese_new_year/

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