Why Do We Celebrate Chinese New Year?
Chinese New Year is the Chinese community’s largest and most important annual festivity. Signifying the start of the new lunar calendar year, the Chinese community will hold celebrations and festivities for fifteen days. It is customary to bring in the New Year by purchasing new clothing and getting a new and tidy haircut. However, the reason why we celebrate Chinese New Year is far more significant – yet blatantly similar to all other cultures – than just an opportunity to receive a bit of money and wear new clothes.
The Origins – What is Chinese New Year?
Like most societies, annual festivities are based on century-old, possibly millennia-old, stories and tales. The same is the case with the Chinese community and Chinese New Year.
According to the tale, many years ago there was a little village that, on every lunar New Year ’s Eve, would be terrorized by a dragon called Nian – which translates to “Year.” However, one year the villagers found that if they adorned their village with red decorations, red attire and fired-off fire crackers in order to create loud noises, the dragon Nian would not terrorize the village. Hence, the value of the color of red to the Chinese community.
When is Chinese New Year?
As I mentioned earlier, Chinese New Year occurs at the start of each and every lunar calendar year. But this translates to a different time with regards to the Gregorian calendar that much of the world uses. Chinese New Year usually takes place within the first couple of months of the Gregorian calendar, though. In 2011, the year of the Rabbit, Chinese New Year took place at the beginning of February. However, this year (2012), the year of the Dragon, Chinese New Year began on January 23rd, and lasted fifteen days.
Chinese New Year Food
As is the case with celebrations that are commonly celebrated in the United States – Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah – big meals and family-involvement are usually a staple of what the whole occasions are about. The same is the case with Chinese New Year. In fact, Chinese New Year is so important inChinathat the beginning of the year will always result in the largest migration of human population as workers inChinacommute back home for the celebrations.
Though different people prepare different types of meals when in comes to Chinese New Year food, however, a commonality between all Chinese people is the use of noodles and chicken. Noodles are symbols of longevity; the longer the noodles eaten, the better luck you’ll have with health and prosperity. Chicken is symbolic of happiness and marriage; both things everybody wants, regardless of culture or race.
But why do we celebrate?
Returning back to the point I was trying to make in the introduction, despite all the decorations and hype that surrounds Chinese New Year, the real reason the occasion is so significant is because of something that is inherent in all human beings.
If we look at civilization back in the day – back when there were no decorations or elaborate performances that are associated with festive occasions – there was people spending time and enjoying the company of other people. Family and friends are the reason why Chinese New Year is not only significant for the Chinese community, but also for anyone lucky enough to experience the festivities from the outside.