Celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year February 19, 2015 - The Year of the Goat

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Fireworks are part of the Lunar New Year celebrations.
Fireworks are part of the Lunar New Year celebrations. | Source

The Lunar New Year, Also Known as the Chinese New Year

Cue dragons, fireworks, sparklers, traditional foods and lots of symbols of the goat!

The traditional Lunar New Year is what is often referred to as Chinese New Year. The Chinese begin Lunar New Year celebrations on the date of the second new moon, following the winter solstice. This means the date will change each year, aligned with the movement of the earth and the moon.

The Chinese New Year begins on Thursday, February 19, 2015. Woohoo! It's the Year of the Goat. People born under this zodiac sign are characterized as mild mannered, shy and sympathetic. They are serene and calm and tend to have few health problems. Their auspicious numbers are 2 and 7.

January 31, marked the beginning of the 2014 New Year. The Year of the Snake ended and the Year of the Horse began.

For the Chinese and some other Asian countries, the Lunar New means that billions - over 400 million Chinese migrant workers included - will be traveling home to be with their families, as is the tradition. In fact, this is usually the only extended period of time off that many Chinese laborers have. Many will make the trek to be with their families even when sick. The trip can sometimes be a very long and challenging journey by train, bus, car and even walking, back to the villages and towns they grew up in.

Compared to the Western New Year, which began with the Gregarian calendar a mere 430 years ago, the Lunar New Year began in China thousands of years ago with the 21st Century B.C. Xia Dynasty and strengthened during the following Shang Dynasty (16 - 11 B. C.).

Marking the Lunar New Year with celebration pre-dates Buddhism and Daoism.

The Lunar New Year grew out of myth and legend. Traditional telling says celebrating the beginning of a new year began with a wizened old man, an evil monster named Nian and a village called Peach Blossom desperate to rid itself of the monster.

The evil monster, Nian, whose name means "year" would enter the village and, with his beastly proportions, begin to prey on the villagers at will. In desperation the villagers approached a wise old man, asking what they could do to defeat the evil Nian.

The old man advised that when they heard the monster approach, they should light red lanterns and throw firecrackers the monster's way. The old man proceeded to dress himself in red and stood in the light of the red lanterns, with red scrolls hanging at the doorway. When the monster approached, the villagers diligently threw the firecrackers. Nian, being startled by the firecrackers, looked up, saw the old man in red and the hanging red scrolls and was consequently frightened off, never to be heard from again.

Just to be sure, however, the Chinese began to annually celebrate the monster's banishment soon after winter solstice, the darkest day of the year.

Chinese New Year Celebration in Vancouver, BC
Chinese New Year Celebration in Vancouver, BC | Source
Red Chinese Lanterns are an important part of Lunar Celebrations
Red Chinese Lanterns are an important part of Lunar Celebrations | Source

Lunar New Year Customs

The Chinese tradition of celebrating New Year is older than Buddhism and Daoism. As can be expected, customs and traditions have developed around the fifteen day celebration of the Lunar New Year. Unfortunately, the age of technology and practicality has ushered out many of the customs that the Chinese had been practicing for thousands of years. However, some do remain and the Chinese practice those traditions that mean the most to their families.

The theme of the New Year continues to be one of prosperity, good fortune and longevity. Many the traditions are practiced to ensure that individuals and the family would experience prosperity, good fortune and good luck throughout the new year.

Some of the traditions have been included in Western New Year's Celebration which you will easily be able to identify.

  1. It is traditional to buy new red clothing to wear throughout the celebration.
  2. Poems and Chinese couplets called dui lian are written on red paper, in Chinese characters because red symbolizes fire. Fire can drive away any bad luck and bad spirits. They are hung at the door or entrance to the home or hung in the hallways as part of the decorations..
  3. Fireworks are set off to get rid of the negative energy and spirits of the previous year.
  4. Traditional dragon dances are performed during the Festival of Lanterns as part of the celebratory parades on the fifteenth day of the New Year. Today's parade might also include marching bands and floats, particularly in those celebrations in parts of the world other than China.
  5. On New Year's Eve, children are given red envelopes or packets called hong bao which are decorated with gold trim and traditionally have money in them.
  6. Families gather for huge dinners on New Year's Eve. These dinners include many traditional foods such as dumplings with "gold" coins in them, the Together Tray laden with candies and sweet fruits, oranges, tangerines, and fish dishes.
  7. Candles and incense is burned throughout the time to encourage longevity for the family members.
  8. In most of the Asian countries celebrating Lunar New Year, incense is placed in the temples. The first person to place the incense sticks inside the temple will be blessed with good luck. As you can imagine, many begin lining up at the temple doors very early in order to be first inside.
  9. The house is cleaned thoroughly to rid it of any negative energy from the previous year. Care is given not to sweep on New Year's day so that all good fortune is not swept out the door. An offering is left in the kitchen for the "kitchen god" in gratitude for the previous year's bounty and to encourage plenty for the coming year.
  10. The house is decorated with red lanterns and red paper cutouts along with floral decorations.

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Chinese Celebrate with Gifts for Family

Spending in China during the days leading up to the Lunar New Year increases substantially, as the Chinese travel and buy gifts and clothes according to their age old tradition. This is often a time that merchants look forward to mark the beginning a great financial year.

Major cities around the world, especially those with large Chinese populations, prepare special activities for this important holiday and marking the Year of the Goat in 2015. Though many of the celebrations will only take place over the weekend, still the ancient traditions will be upheld, with food, good luck pieces, red lanterns, newly cleaned and purged homes and resplendent parades with the requisit dancing dragons.

The Lunar New Year is a magnificent celebration rooted in Chinese heritage that is rich in traditions and enjoyed by many worldwide.


Copyright 2013: Cynthia Turner

Happy Lunar New Year; Happy Chinese New Year

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Comments 10 comments

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

I have recently learned that the Chinese New Year and it's corresponding feasts, traditions and celebrations, is a HUGE deal to Asian people... I have my manicures and pedicures done at a salon, run entirely by Vietnamese individuals. They are very friendly and love to interact with their customers.

I casually asked one question about the Chinese calendar and New Year. Each of my subsequent visits has been another class in Chinese New Year, 101 !! LOL It's actually great education. Your hub is marvelous. Thank you for adding to what I am learning!..UP+++


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 3 years ago from Georgia Author

I'm so glad you enjoyed this. It is a fascinating celebration with traditions that date back thousands of years. Just reading about the masses of people who are literally on the move at this time to be with their families is really something.

I hope I've given you even more information to add to your Chinese New Year 101.

Happy Chinese New Year!


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore

Gong Xi Fa Cai! I was drawn to this immediately because I'm Chinese and celebrating this season now, here in sunny Singapore. You've got the fun facts right on the button!! Sharing!


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 3 years ago from Georgia Author

Thank you! Gong Xi Fa Cai to you, as well!

I had a lot of fun doing the research and I'm so glad I got it right. Whew! that's a relief.

Thank you so much for sharing.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

Fascinating read, I never realised the origin of the color red in Chinese celebrations, and what a lovely celebration it is. I also didn't know how far back the new year was, so this was interesting, thanks, voted up! nell


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 3 years ago from Georgia Author

Hi Nell, Isn't it fun to discover new things about other cultures? I wore red on the first day of the Lunar New Year for fun. Next year I might hang a few banners, or at least one, at the door.

Thanks so much for reading and voting up.


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 3 years ago from Nepal

When Chinese are celebrate lunar new year, we Nepalese too will be celebrating one of 9 new years.

Thanks for sharing this great informative piece.


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 3 years ago from Georgia Author

Wow, 9 new years! Now I'm curious. Thanks for reading and sharing the comment.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 21 months ago from New York

I thought this was really good and educational then I read Michelle's comment and moved it up to great.

So many interesting facts. Next year I'm buying a red dress for New Years.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 21 months ago from Georgia Author

Hi, Thanks for leaving a comment. Buying a red dress for the celebration is a great idea. Happy New Year! Cyndi

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