Chinese New Year: Common Practices and Beliefs
2014 is the Year of the Yang Wood Horse (Jia Wu). In preparation for the start of Chinese New Year, Chinese lanterns and other decorations have been popping up and displayed in most Chinese countries and Chinese community areas around the globe to herald the new year.
Chinese New Year is known as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival which usually lasts 15 days. This year, the date of the Chinese New Year 2014 is on Jan. 30, 2014 (Chinese New Year's Eve) to February 13, 2014 (Lantern Festival). As a tradition, weeks before the New Year celebration, enormous preparations has been made as the Chinese people consider Spring Festival accompanied by good fortune.
The Lunar year celebration involves not only decorations, food and dragon dance celebrations but of century- old rituals, social customs and beliefs as well.
Customarily, people clean their entire house before the New Year to get rid of the negative energy and bad luck gathered by the previous year. On New Year’s Day, they will not sweep nor clean their house or else the new luck and good fortune will be brushed off.
Decorate in red and 8. In the Chinese culture, red is the symbol of good luck, happiness and vitality in life while number 8 symbolizes prosperity and wealth.
Before the New Year and on New Year’s Day itself, Chinese celebrators head to the temples to pray and burn incense sticks. They also bring food to offer to the spirits of the departed - their way to pay respect to their ancestors and such act they believe will bring good luck to their lives.
Traditional Dinner and Custom outfit. Traditional foods are served and eaten on the family table at this time of year. Foods that have traditional meanings like shrimps to bring abundance, apples to bring peace, oranges to bring money, sweet rice cakes to bring harmony and close family ties, meat dumplings to bring wealth and more. Wearing the traditional Chinese clothing is also still practiced these days. Some wear the all red traditional outfit, while others wear a combination of red and gold clothing, not only for an elegant look but to bring happiness and luck as well.
Feng Shui masters recommend wearing red undergarments for those who are born in the Year of the Horse turning 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, 84 and 96 this year.
The second day is considered the beginning of the year; Chinese people visit and hang out with their family, friends and relatives.
Loud noises from the spectacular fireworks display is believed to entirely drive away all the bad luck from the previous years.
The colorful lion and dragon dance that roar on the streets is believed to scare off the bad spirits.
Giving off Ang paw or red packet envelopes with money enclosed to your children will bring continuous prosperity.
It is only a couple of days ahead and the festivity begins – “Gong Xi Fa Chai”